To add to the problem of the decreasing tourist footfalls, beaches in the Goa- Maharashtra border are giving stiff competition to tourism in the state, finds out Bhiva P Parab
The once lesser known and little-isolated bordering beaches in Maharashtra like the Shiroda beach which is more popularly known as the Paradise beach, Redi beach, Vengurla beach, and Mochemaad beach are now attracting flocks of tourists both foreign and domestic from Goa. The tourism loss is especially from Pernem coastal villages from beaches such as Arambol, Ashwem- Mandrem, Keri and Morjim. These sought after beaches by foreigners in the olden days are losing out to alternate tourism destination.
It may be noted that the interstate bridge of Kiranpani- Aronda which was built a few years back have connected the Goa-Maharashtra bordering villages and has bridged the gap between the beaches of the two states.
According to the information available from the sources, the hoteliers here along the Mahararahtra beaches are attracting the tourists with tempting prices which are cheaper than the Goan hotels. Advertisements can be seen at various places including within the Goa area and the rates are very affordable for general tourists. Many a times the rates are less by 20 to 30 percent and some hotels even offer room tariff which is as much as 50 per cent cheaper than what the tourists get on Goan beaches.
Whereas in Goa one small single room may cost Rs 1500 to Rs 5000 near the beach, a similar room on the bordering Maharashtra beaches cost the tourists the rate as low as Rs 1,000 or even less to Rs 3500 per night making it a good deal for them. At times hoteliers are ready to give the rooms at less than the tariff price which is a reason that attracts the tourists.
The tourism season across the border also begins somewhere in October-November and goes up to April-May and the peak season is December-January. Locals say that, they see hundreds of foreign and domestic tourists daily taking mostly rented bikes from Goa and go to the bordering beaches in Maharashtra.
The number of tourists over the years have been increasing on these beaches and the attraction of tourists to these Maharashtra beaches which are close to the beautiful Goan beaches like Arambol, Ashwem- Mandrem, Keri and Morjim are eating into the economy of these beaches. It may be noted that earlier to go to the bordering beaches of Maharashtra and to the now famous beaches here there was ferry service and so hardly anyone used to travel to the beaches in the neighbouring state.
However the interstate bridge is becoming more beneficial to the tourism industry in Maharashtra and in fact the bridge in turn is given rise to a tourism industry in the bordering villages. This has started to have effect on North Goa economy, especially Pernem tourist operators business as more and more both foreign and domestic tourists have started making their way to these beaches.
A local businessman went on to say that the beaches in bordering Maharashtra villages, especially Shiroda beach is becoming an alternative destination for the tourists and several advertisements, posters, banners attracting visitors. The ads are prominent from the Goa end, particularly near the bridge and once the tourists come to know about the places they are hooked.
In the past tourists visited the border beaches as day-time trip. They went in the morning and come back to Goa in the evening. However with accommodation and hotels coming up the stays are becoming longer. Lately buildings buildings with flats for sale are also coming up in the neighbouring beach areas and changing the landscape of the Goa-Maharashtra border.
Local hoteliers are saying that, they are helpless at the trend. “We cannot stop tourists from going there,” said a shack owner in Arambol. He revealed that, the beach area across the border is become a flourishing destination for real estate. Buyers who cannot afford house in Goa purchase in Maharashtra. The business that Goa used to get before the construction of bridge has reduced a bit and instead the business of Maharashtra tourism of bordering beaches have been increasing,” said the shack owner.
The arrival of the players in tourism industry from Maharashtra is changing the business and customers are happy because they are getting reasonable rates. The Maharashtra tourism industry is also happy because the business volume for them is increased significantly. Some of the tourists who come to visit for a longer stay are seen going for marketing to the weekly bazaar in Maharashtra bordering villages like Aronda and Shiroda. These bazaar are big and variety of local items are available here at reasonable rates. On the other hand, at Mandrem constituency there are no big weekly bazaars for tourists to get local and other items at reasonable rates.
While speaking, a domestic tourist went to say that the food on the Maharashtra beaches which are close to the Goa border is cheaper. The food is similar. It is fish curry rice which is famous in Goa. With these beaches having a fishing community there is plenty of fish-curry-rice to be had,” he said. The tourist added that, the rates of the same food item is found to be cheaper across the Goa border.
For example a fish thali which is priced in Goa somewhere around Rs 150 with king fish can be got in Maharashtra for around Rs 120. Then there are other small fish thalis which are cheaper and there even is the simple fish thali which costs only Rs 60. The vegetarian food is also cheaper as compared to the Goan hotels. Further there are several small big hotels along the roadside serving good meals at reasonable prices. “The Goan beaches are close from here. It is hardly 20 to 30 kms distance and living across the border we can travel to the Goan beaches whenever needed,” said a tourist.
The villagers in the Maharashtra beach area are happy about the change. A businessman doing business on the Maharashtra beach area said a few years back, the beaches used to be lonely with no business. “Now the things are changing with several tourists coming from Goa. The famous Paradise beach which is not even an hour away from Goa border has clean sand, sparkling blue waters, cool sea breeze,” said the businessman.
He went on to say that, the Paradise beach is the most crowded beach and makes the most business by attracting several tourists especially foreign tourists. Then there are beaches which are literally untouched and undisturbed and tourists come here for bird watching. Due to the clean beaches which is hard to find in Goa the beaches are good for taking a short dip. According to the businessman the tourism business in Maharashtra is developing and generating employment to the youth.
Parking problem is perennial in the coastal areas of Pernem. The problem becomes acute as the tourism season advances and it becomes difficult to find a place for parking vehicles especially four-wheelers.
There are shops on the both sides of the narrow roads along the beach areas, especially the Arambol beach which goes to the beach area and there being hardly any open space to park the vehicles some people park them on the either sides of the road and so it leads to traffic congestion. Parking of vehicles on both the sides of the road also affects the smooth flow of traffic and causes inconvenience. A tourist said that at the beaches in Maharashtra there is plenty of parking space and there are a few shacks along the main entry to the beach, and you can get fresh coconut water and some simple snacks. Paradise beach here is a great spot to reach early morning and get a view of the sunrise on the eastern coast and one can spend hours sitting on the beach and enjoying the waves and a variety of water sports facilities are available here as well enthusiastic tourists can try a hand at fishing as fishing rods and nets are easily available for rent and they are reasonably priced.
Goan beach shack operators along the Pernem coast said that, there is need to improve the quality of the basic infrastructure and see that Goa is clean and peaceful destination. The state needs to maintain its unique identity as every tourist destination survives on its unique identity. If the state wants to wins the fight over quality versus quantity then it needs to improve the public mode of transportation, possibly by improvement of taxi and bus services to tourist spots. Tourism is the premier industry in Goa employing lakhs of people and several families sustain from the revenues generated by tourism. We need to improve the services offered to the tourists which will attract quality tourists to the coastal villages in the state.