In the middle of a busy spell, Goa’s shack owners are alleging an unexciting tourist season, thanks to poor business. According to them, the season so far has turned out to be a damp squib with less number of Indian and foreign visitors spotted on the beaches.
The extended weekends and high volume of domestic arrivals during Saturdays and Sundays in the month of October did nothing for their business and it was followed by a dull November, said shack owners.
President of Shack Owners Welfare Society Cruz Cardozo said that the peak tourist season, starting from October took off on a poor note. He said that except for the Diwali festival weekend when business was good, the rest of October and November meant poor business for them.
Cardozo pointed out that hotels are running full during the long weekends because of packaged deals and wedding tourism but shacks have no such deals to offer and, therefore, are attracting lesser crowds. He said that after the lacklustre start to a peak season they are hoping for a turnaround in December for the year end when the state typically witnesses a surge of arrivals. “We are keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.
According to shack owners, business from foreign tourists is down by 80 per cent this season. Last year, foreigners were badly hit by demonetisation, as they had no money to travel and spend. The bad experience could be the reason for the crash in foreigner arrivals this time, they said.
Shack owner from Candolim Seby D’Souza said that the domestic tourists who arrive in busloads from Karnataka and Maharashtra during the weekends do nothing for their business. “If tourists come with dal, rice and handi, how will it help our business?” he asked. According to D’Souza, Goa has become a cheap holiday destination and the tourism department is not helping much by keeping the infrastructure on beaches in poor condition. He said that the government is only counting ‘heads’ (arrivals) and is not interested in getting quality tourists. “Officials are projecting an impression of booming tourism,” he said.
Although Goa is currently a 365-day tourist destination, the months of October- January are considered the peak season. The four months are important to all stakeholders, especially the beachside shacks that do brisk business by selling food and drinks to tourists. Shacks are permitted to be on the beaches from October to May 31.
Shack owners have been currently badly hit by high tide due to the severe cyclone ‘Ockhi’ and the losses are reportedly running into lakhs of rupees. They said that the losses have added to the low earnings from a lacklustre season.