Goa: Where are the tourists?

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The beaches along Calangute in Goa, India saw hordes of low budget tourists this Holiday season. They created noise and garbage, empty beer bottles., but they didn’t spend money.

Calangute is a town in the western Indian State of Goa. Standing on the shores of the Arabian Sea, it’s home to long, sandy Calangute Beach, lined with restaurants and bars. Farther north, Baga Beach is a popular spot for water sports. To the south, the sturdy walls of Aguada Fort, built in the early 1600s under Portuguese colonial rule, surround a 19th-century lighthouse.

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Hotel occupancy this New Year was only 40 percent while guest houses went empty and shacks had less than 50 percent business. The yearly electronic dance music (EDM) festival did not take place and was clearly felt along the beach belt of Calangute.

A taxi operator told a local reporter, that visitors traveling to Goa now prefer to stay in Morjim and Pernem.

Morjim is a Census Town in Pernem, Goa, India; it is situated on the northern bank of the Chapora River estuary. It is home to a variety of birds and is a nesting site for Olive ridley sea turtles. The village has become known as “Little Russia” because of the concentration of Russian immigrants living there. Pernem is a city and a municipal council in North Goa district in the Indian state of Goa.

Organisers of EDMs shied away from holding the events in Goa due to procedural hassles and this badly affected the tourism business, stated a tourism stakeholder.

Goa needs EDM festivals and it has to be on the government calendar to boost tourism in the state. A guest house owner Dominic Fernandes said that “every year my guest house used to get full and I would send customers to other guest houses, but this is the first time that I did not get any booking.”

Due to lack of business, hotels started offering packages of breakfast and stay to customers and this affected business of restaurants and shacks,” Philomena stated.

A hotelier said that usually, the room rates used to be around Rs 5000 during the Christmas week, but this time they had to slash the rates to Rs 1500. “All rooms were running empty, hence, I had no choice but to reduce tariffs to Rs 1500,” he said.

A Drishti lifeguard at Calangute told a local reporter that tourists were seen coming to the beach only after 5 pm to usher in the New Year and that they brought along liquor bottles.