LONDON: The murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling got Goa a bad press but tour operators here insist that there has been no let up in bookings since it is still considered a safe destination.
According to a leading industry publication, Goa’s reputation had come under scan due to the reports about Keeling’s death, and about British women spending holiday in Goa falling victims to unscrupulous youths seeking extortion money.
However, it said tour operators continued to repose faith in Goa.
Ash Sofat, chief executive of leading tour operator Somak, said: “It’s definitely safe to go to Goa. Tourists need to exercise common sense as they would at home.
“It appears that Scarlett was not doing the tourist thing and was mixing with the wrong crowd. If you’re backpacking, you would be more exposed whether in Goa or at home.”
Somak sent 12,000 tourists to Goa last year and Sofat said none of them had any safety or security concerns.
“One of the attractions of Goa is that it is safe. You can walk along the beach from hotel to hotel at night. I do that all the time in Goa. I wouldn’t walk around at night in Nairobi or even in parts of London,” Sofat added.
Jewel in the Crown Holidays send about 12,000 tourists to Goa every season and they have only received a handful of complaints mainly relating to thefts on the beach.
Managing director Platon Loizou told the weekly: “What happened to this girl was a sad and unfortunate incident but I think Goa is very safe. The case was dealt with rather badly and an arrest should have been made earlier.”
“There will always be incidents and unnecessary problems as long as people take drugs. My advice to tourists wherever they go would be to stay away from drugs,” Loizou said.