All roads lead to Goa in the Christmas-New Year season. That’s an every year-end phenomenon. Nothing new, there. What’s new is that this year, there’s an exponential swell in numbers. The Goa Tourism puts it at an a whopping 22% this year.
“The infrastructure that’s in place is holding on, thankfully; but it’s stretched alarmingly,” GTDC chairperson Nilesh Cabral told dna. “We have over 86,000 hotel rooms in all and these are all booked. With over 7 lakh holidaymakers descending on the state, homestays and other facilities which are not on the inventory are also filling up quickly and people are still pouring in.”
Two big-ticket music festivals — Vh1 Supersonic and Sunburn — are adding to the season’s saturation. “Each festival brings in two lakh people and we were hoping to convince organisers to shift them to another date. But tourist arrivals not only benefit the Centre and state in revenue but also small businesses, which thrive on them.”
Cabral rued how most arrivals were last-minute decisions and foiled plans to keep the season 100% smooth and hassle-free. From the 1990s, when Goa used to see record charter arrivals, there has seen a sharp fall in tourist numbers. This season has so far seen 1,500 charter arrivals. Unlike from the UK and Germany from where most tourists used to arrive earlier, over 60% of charters this year-end have come from Russia. Domestically, GTDC figures show that the largest number of footfalls come from Gujarat and Delhi.
Not everyone is happy, though. With the tourist influx, many locals complain that such numbers are far more than what the state can take. “While every three or four Goans out of 10 benefit from tourist flow, others don’t. We wonder why we have to put up with the din and traffic snarls, sometimes making us miss something as important as midnight mass,” says Sarah Azvedo, a resident of Bairro das Fontainhas.
GTDC managing director Nikhil Desai admits to this ground reality, but hopes that the massive infrastructure being created will end the problems. “The all-women cab and guide services for women tourists, demarcated buoyed-off safe areas for swimming on the beach, state-of-the-art cloakroom facilities and CCTV cameras will change things a lot within two months,” he said.