Buoy­ant Goa tourism wor­ried about fu­ture

India Review & Analysis - - CONTENTS -

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.

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