TTAG has agreed that the proposed board could be part financed by increasing fees for licensing of tourism activities, registration and renewal. The same TTAG has consistently opposed any hikes! Drugs, sex tourism and a certain class of tourists has combined to make Goa an undesirable destination. ARZ last week exposed whose crass language says it all. Its rather offensive characterization: Picking up girls in Goa is an easy job when compared to the rest of the country.

July 2, 2019
Lionel Messias

If wishes were horses…

The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has done it yet again. After antagonizing the tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar to the extent it could and embarrassing his department on his and its frequent trips abroad to hardsell Goa’s tourism; TTAG now wants an independent tourism board controlled by it. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride; and that would describe exactly how the tourism department is going to treat such wishful thinking.

The funny thing is it has agreed that the proposed board could be part financed by increasing fees for licensing of tourism activities, registration and renewal. Now this is the same TTAG that has consistently opposed any hikes, especially on taxation. Another item on its demand list for the board I thought was as strange as the others in its just released White Paper on Goa’s beyond-salvaging-tourism industry titled ‘Reinvent Goa’, is its desire to include the Goa Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Indian Industry and small and medium sized industries (SMEs).

All of these trade bodies exclusively focus on the distinctive industries they represent and there is nothing common between them and TTAG. Ironically, the lobbying clout they have does not even remotely match TTAG’s which has the full support of the English media. So, is it pure politics? Because by including the presidents of the other trade bodies, TTAG thinks it can create pressure groups to influence the tourism department to agree to the proposed board.

And why in god’s name will the Goa government relinquish its stranglehold over a lucrative industry? When the Mandrem MLA Dayanand Sopte took over as the chairman of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) recently, his first act in office was to declare that GTDC would stop leasing out its hotel properties, which it had begun to do since 2012 when Nilesh Cabral was its chairman. The GTDC leased out its properties at Miramar, Panjim; Anjuna, Colva and Britona.

Too late to reinvent

In the first two parts of this series, I wrote how today’s so-called stake holders with the connivance of successive governments have over the decades looked the other way as Goa’s tourism deteriorated to its current pathetic state motivated by their greed to make big money; with striking and significant examples of how it all happened. The recent arrest of a Brazilian national Joao Pedro Duarte Oliveira Sousa for whom Interpol issued a red corner notice for drug dealing poignantly illustrates the dark side of tourism, the only shade it has in fact.

This dark side, the easy availability of drugs, sex tourism and a certain class of tourists who can only be described as hooligans drinking on the beaches combined to make Goa an undesirable destination for big spending, well behaved tourists; unless of course you are Russian. According to a Russian Leonid Beyzer, he and a friend were stopped at Morjim beach on April 11, 2019 and threatened at gun point to transfer his shareholding in a company to another person. Beyzer told police that his Russian assistant Yulia Yaskova by forging his signature was able to sell two properties to two Russians. So, not only do they commit crimes against ethnic Goans but they target their own compatriots! How the Russians have illegally entered the restaurant and taxi services at the expense of ethnic Goans has been well documented in the media.

It’s like reinventing the wheel

While it may somehow one day even be possible to reinvent the wheel, to reinvent Goa would at best be purely a matter of decision-making and putting down half- baked beliefs on paper that might be pleasing to look at but without rationale or reality. Tourism stakeholders in Goa should take responsibility for how badly tourism standards have fallen that a website can be so blasé as to tell it like it like no other has done before. Arun Pandey, director, of Arz- Anyay Rahit Zindagi (an NGO) and my fellow Velsao villager, last week exposed the website whose crass language says it all.

The point he makes would make any police department wake up and take action, but not the Goa Police. “This is encouraging non-commercial sexual relationship with tourists and local girls.” A point I would have missed had it not been said to me by Pandey. There is a difference here. Probably for the first time ever it’s a lure to come to Goa to get laid. But for now be informed that the information ARZ gives on the website to the government would make a techie dizzy. Seriously. I have seen innocuous comments on the BJP trolled on Facebook by BJP trolls. What you read next should bring them on the road. And thanks to Arun Pandey again, I rediscovered that we have a Goa State Commission for Women, a Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and a Director, Women and Child Development. So much for paying taxes.

The website says this in its Goa Top 10 Overview: Chance of picking up girls: 3.5/5, Picking up at day time: 3.5/5, Picking up at night time: 4/5, Looks of girls: 3/5, Attitude of girls: 4/5, Nightlife in general: 4/5.

The following are excerpts taken from the website from its rather offensive characterization of Goa, which while some may not agree, is actually true of the coastal belt from Sinquerim to Anjuna: “The second type of women who can be stereotyped are those who are not natives of the state, yet are residents of Goa due to their occupation or business. These women might be from different parts of India or from an entirely different country altogether. Usually, such women have been educated elsewhere and are residents of Goa due to their work commitments. These women are much more open-minded and balanced.

Such women understand the conservative mentality of the local lot whilst embracing the global culture which is brought in by the tourists who visit the state. These women are not just familiar with the ways of the state but also with the local language. They are not extremely religious or tightly bound, neither do these women care too much about societal judgment and gossip. These women are slightly easier to approach and much more friendly as well.”

“The final classification of women involves those women who are tourists and in the state for anywhere in-between a few days to a few months. Usually, these women who are tourists are the most carefree of the entire lot. Their primary reason to visit the state of Goa is to enjoy a good holiday. Usually, this involves partying, endless boozing, chilling with close friends, gorging on the delicious seafood, and so forth. These women are in town to let their hair loose and unwind. If you are a tourist and looking for sex as well, these are the women you might want to target.”

It even has a section on ‘How to Pick Up Girls’ – “Picking up girls in Goa is an easy job when compared to the rest of the country. Most of the people you shall interact within Goa shall be tourists and they too would be in the state to party and let their hair loose.”

“The nightclubs are a piece of art themselves. Some of the best nightclubs that one can visit to find horny girls when in Goa, are listed below: Club Cabana, Calangute, Tito’s Bar and Club, Tito’s Lane, Calangute, SinQ Nightclub, Candolim, Cafe Mambos, LPK Waterfront, Nerul, Cape Town Club, Bardez.
And a section on ‘Gold Diggers and Sugar Babies’ - The Sugar Baby scene in Goa is still quite new but there are a lot of beautiful young girls looking for a Sugar Daddy. The best and safest way to hook up with a Sugar Baby is online. At there is a wide selection of nice girls who are looking for an older guy to take care of them. These babes are easy to approach and you can settle everything before meeting up.

I rest my case.

Troubled bridge over waters

If more proof is needed that tourism authorities are apathetic, Nisser Dias, journalist and blogger, shines a light on how the tourism facilities at Colva beach, that thousands of tourists converge to, has become dangerous. He says Rs 11.67 crores was spent in January this year by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation on the ongoing beautification work to develop Colva beach and part of it was the foot over bridge leading to the beach. Barely six months later, the bridge has developed craters and potholes (see picture). And nobody has attended to it. “And that too when GTDC personnel are physically supervising the beautification works!”

“It is very strange that GTDC officials missed seeing the gaping holes which could be very dangerous for the general public and tourists visiting the beach. Interestingly an official from GTDC who does not want to come on record, points fingers at the PWD saying the bridge was built by the PWD and GTDC has no role in its maintenance,” says Nisser about the pass the buck malaise that afflicts the government.

And get this, again in January, it was highlighted that the second over-bridge was showing signs of stress as the steel rods were exposed and was is in need of an urgent coat of plaster to cover it from further corrosion.

Nisser says, that at that time, the GTDC projects manager Pramod Badami had said, that they were aware of it and they even inspected the bridge and were coming up with a composite plan for all that and did not want to merge these works with the funds allotted by the Centre for the beautification of the Colva beach.

“Today the situation remains the same. While one over bridge is riddled with gaping holes, on the other the steels bars continue to be exposed,” he says.  What are they waiting for? For someone to fall through the cracks and get badly injured or worse, die?