Buoyant Goa tourism worried about future
Goa’s heat and humidity has ensured a steady tourist inflow, despite the spread of coronavirus in India, but a proposed hike in liquor prices has made restaurant and bar owner apprehensive about the future.
Goa’s Ports Minister Michael Lobo said that tourist arrivals had increased after the coronavirus outbreak as people are not traveling to places like Thailand, China, Italy and other destinations. “They are coming to Goa pushing the number of tourists up,” said Lobo who comes from Calangute, one of the most popular beaches in Goa. He said Goa was safe and claimed that the state’s weather is not conducive for the virus to spread. Goa, known for its beaches, food and nightlife, received more than seven million tourists last year. Nearly half a million of them were foreigners.
But Goa’s bar and restaurant owners have appealed to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to review his government’s decision to increase tax on liquor by 30% as it would impact the tourism industry. Cheap liquor in the state has been one of the main attractions for tourists.
In a memorandum submitted to the
chief minister and the state Excise Department, Michael Carrasco, president of the All Goa Bar Owners Association also said that instead of an excise tariff hike, a crackdown on illegal sale of liquor at nonlicensed vends would help the government generate more revenue.
“With all these hikes, the revenue of the government will come down due to decrease in sales. The common man and the tourist will feel the pinch and will avoid going to restaurants, due to high prices,” Carrasco said.
“In our Goan culture, bars and restaurants are known for cheap food and affordable liquor. This culture and tradition will eventually die off. Goa is also known all over India and the world for affordable food and liquor, with these hikes there will be no difference of prices all over India, for example (liquor in) Delhi would be cheaper than Goa,” Carrasco also said.
Traditionally, Goa is known as a state with a liberal excise regime, with its liquor priced cheaper, compared to the neighbouring states Karnataka and Maharashtra.