Following intense pressure from civil society and tourism industry stakeholders, the Goa cabinet, which met on Thursday evening, approved amendments to the Tourist Trade Act, imposing a fine of Rs 2,000 on errant tourists who cause ‘public nuisance’.
Announcing this, minister for tourism Manohar Ajgaonkar said that the tourists defying the law in large groups would face a fine of Rs 10,000 and could also face imprisonment if they continue to defy the new law.
“Nobody can carry bottles or drink alcohol on our beaches and tourist places. Food also cannot be cooked in the open. All these offences will attract a fine of Rs 2,000,” Ajgaonkar announced.
“If the fine is not paid, the scale of offence registered will increase. The offender can be arrested and imprisoned for three months,” Ajgaonkar also said.
The amendments will be tabled in the upcoming three-day budget session of the Goa Assembly.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has repeatedly promised to ban drinking in public especially along the beaches but never got done to make good on his promises.
An especially poor tourism season this year has led to persistent calls from the tourism industry to crack down on the tourists who drive others away.
“It’s not that we can stop low end tourists from coming to Goa. But you have to control the behaviour of tourists. When Indians go overseas, they won’t be spitting around the place or running around without proper clothes or drinking on the roads and what not,” Savio Messias, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), the state’s apex hospitality industry lobby group said, stressing that it was the loutish behaviour by some tourists that was keeping good tourists and foreigners away.
A similar uproar was echoed by deputy speaker Michael Lobo who represents Calangute constituency, arguably the epicentre of the state’s tourism industry.
“Stop people drinking on the footpath, on the promenades, on the beaches, breaking bottles. The minute you stop this, you will see that this crowd will stop coming to Goa. They don’t want to drink in a shack or a restaurant, because they know it is expensive. They just want to buy and come on the beach and get drunk and look at women,” he said.
“Our chief minister is responsible for this. He should have brought out an order banning drinking of alcohol on beaches. The orders have not come, so nobody can act. We are all helpless. A tourist comes and does what he wants,” Lobo also said.
Goa’s tourism inflow grew at above 30% in 2014 and 2015, taking the number from a little above 30 lakh tourists a year to around 60 lakh.
The numbers continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate and are believed to have breached the 80 lakh figure in 2018.
But the sheer numbers and the pressure of the state’s infrastructure have provoked fears among stakeholders that more numbers will mean a worse experience for everyone and drive the good tourists away.
Five years ago, foreign tourists comprised nearly 20% of the total numbers but today it stands at only around 10%.