Exorbitant taxi fare and rude policing adversely affected Goa Tourism

Uncontrolled taxi fares, rude nature of policemen, who are over enthusiastic in penalizing outstation vehicles are said to be the root cause of decline in inbound tourists in Goa.

Savio Messias, President of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said that the 30-40 per cent decline in the tourist footfalls in the coastal tourist destination is also due to the inability to handle the mushrooming garbage crisis, which had led to Japanese, Finnish and Danish tour operators to abstain from Goa, stating ‘safety and health concerns’.

“There is widespread indiscipline among taxi operators and drivers, which is one of the main causes for driving away tourists from Goa. Taxis are so unaffordable, that tourists prefer to travel by their own cars, adding to stress on the road infrastructure,” Messias said.

Travel and tourism industry stakeholders over the last few days have been discussing the sudden decline in Goa’s tourism fortunes. Even the festive Christmas and New Year week could not help improving the condition.

The taxis in Goa has no fare meter system in place and private cab drivers have often been accused of being aggressive as well as over-priced when they serve outstation tourists.

The absence of app-based taxi services like Ola and Uber have also compounded the problem, even as a state tourism ministry endorsed app-based taxi service GoaMiles has never really taken off, due to poor pricing patterns and unavailability, according to users.

While broader issues like the high rate of GST slab, which affected the price of hotel rooms, increase in unregistered rooms offered by online portals, poor marketing strategy, have been identified as key reasons for the drop, Messias also pointed out to basic flaws, like poor and corrupt policing, which have impacted Goa’s image as a welcoming tourism destination.

“Police harassment is one of the most noticeable things. Whether it is due to targets set to policemen by their superior officers or government, we do not know. But it is so common to see cops stopping and fining tourists travelling in cars with registration of other states. In Goa, it appears that if you are a tourist, then you are treated like criminal,” said Messias.

“The marketing strategy of the Goa Tourism at international travel mart is unprofessional and these international visits are reduced to mere excursions by the concerned people. The marketing strategy has become a joke, with politicians and even officials from the government’s Public Works Department selling Goa as a destination on these jaunts,” added Messias.

Messias also said that the state government’s figure of 7 lakh plus annual footfalls was inaccurate and demanded that the Tourism Ministry should commission a survey to find out the exact number of tourists visiting Goa every year.

The state’s Tourism Ministry’s inability to keep beaches and key tourist sites free of garbage has added to Goa’s woe, he said.

Messias slated the way in which the authorities have been handing the garbage issue in the beaches. Beach cleaning has been delayed due to infighting between government departments for years.

If the issues are not addressed with due diligence and priority, Goa may lose its status as one of the top beach and nightlife tourism destinations in the country and the tourism stakeholders are expecting to have prompt and constructive action from the part of the authorities.