The New Year has come, but it has not been that cheerful for tourism businesses along the Candolim-Calangute-Baga stretch, the reason being several hotels, guest houses, shacks saw dull business during the last week of the year gone by.
However, the beaches along this stretch saw hordes of tourists-the low-budget travellers who ushered in the New Year, but not without creating nuisance of garbage and empty liquor bottles all over. They revelled on the beaches to the music played at the shacks, while the shack operators rued that they made no business from such low-budget tourists.
As per hoteliers, during the Christmas season, room count of hotels was less than 40 per cent while guest houses went empty and shacks had less than 50 per cent business. The effect of absence of electronic dance music (EDM) festival was clearly felt along the beach belt of Calangute.
“Tourism is dying a slow death along the Calangute-Baga stretch. Exorbitant rates charged by hotels and guest houses are keeping the tourists away and they now prefer to stay in Morjim and Pernem,” said a taxi operator.
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.
Locals told this daily that before EDMs started in Goa, the Christmas-New Year days used to see foreigners and domestic tourists with their families coming into the state for year-end festivities, but after EDMs the number of such tourists dwindled.
They said that the hotels, shacks then started banking on young tourists coming to Goa especially for EDMs and with this the stakeholders started charging heftily for rooms and other services. This, they said, led to a negative spread of word with many tourists taking to social media to caution travellers against fleecing in Goa especially during the Christmas week.
As per locals, due to absence of EDMs and being aware that they are overcharged in Goa for any service, many tourists have stayed away from visiting Goa and if this trend continues, Goa’s tourism will be at stake. The tourist taxi operators are also complaining of poor business.
When asked about the dull business during the year-end, Calangute MLA Michael Lobo said that it was because of lack of interest by certain section on maintaining Goa’s tourism. He said there was no EDM this time due to absence of a single window system for various clearances.
“Goa needs EDM festivals and it has to be on the government calendar to boost tourism in the state,” he stated.
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.”
Philomena Fernandes, shack owner from Baga, said that this year the business was less than 50 per cent. “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.
Narayan Chimbulkar, Calangute traffic cell PI, said that this year he had got extra policemen to man traffic along the beach belt, so also proper parking arrangements were done, but the tourist flow was fairly less.
A Drishti lifeguard at Calangute told this daily 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. Meanwhile, a stakeholder stated that tourists have started booking rooms for days onward 2nd week of January as the rates are lesser.