Unwanted guests

Published: Sunday 07 June 2015

Unwanted guests

Alarmed over the negative impact of tourism in Goa, several citizens' groups have called for a cap on visitors arriving in the country's smallest state where the annual tourist arrivals is about to outstrip the local population.

Nine voluntary groups - representing women's organisations, conservationists, fisherfolk, environmentalists and others - have asked the state government to suspend promotion of tourism in Goa in the international fairs and to compel holiday-makers to take their non-biodegradable garbage back home. Tourist traffic here recently crowed the one-million-a-year mark, almost touching Goa's population of 1.3 million. Business quarters have been happy about the boom but citizens' groups charge that tourism has downgraded the quality of life for residents.

"Tourism is for Goa and Goa is not for tourism," said spokesperson of the citizens' groups, Claude Alvares. Some tourist areas like the once prime beach of Calangute, have been "turned into slums" which suffer from lack of sewage and garbage disposal facilities, diseases like malaria, noise pollution and poor power supply.

In their demands placed before the government, the citizens' groups have said that in the coming 10 years, the state should treat the local people just as it has been pampering the tourists. "No promotion of tourism should he allowed until the deteriorating conditions of the local people are reversed and until surplus food and water supplies are available," they demanded. They have also called for a minimum monthly wage of Rs 2,500 for workers in the tourism sector.

Protests over Goa's excessive promotion of tourism began exactly 10 years back. In 1987, German tourists visiting the state faced hostile protests from campaigning groups. Some projects like construction of golf courses, have been put on the backburner due to public protests.

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