Now that New Year’s eve is around the corner, many people will be heading to Goa to celebrate the advent of 2024. It’s India’s favorite holiday destination. But what are the plus and minus points of visiting Goa these days? Like many other places, Goa has been undergoing changes, some of which are welcome while some are undesirable.
There are excellent hotels and the food available is top class. But at the same time, there’s overcrowding, prices have shot up and cleanliness is not always maintained. While driving along beautiful rural roads one often finds piles of garbage that defile the pristine greenery.
The positives and negatives
To get an idea of the positive and negative aspects of visiting Goa these days, this correspondent spoke to Srijit Kumar, a man who has had many years of experience of working in the marketing aspects of the hospitality industry in Goa. He told Siasat.com that for several years, a gradual demographic change has been taking place in Goa. The foreign tourist inflow has reduced dramatically.
“The most obvious example can be seen in the area around Candolim beach. This locality was known to be an upmarket region. But now, if you walk along the roads there, you will find that a lot of the old fish and chips shops and restaurants serving European food have been replaced by eateries serving Punjabi and South Indian dishes. The reason for this is that domestic tourism has increased phenomenally while foreign interest in Goa has declined,” said Srijit.
Goa has become a year-round destination
“My colleagues and I noticed this change as far back as 2015. The reasons were many. For one thing domestic tourists were willing to spend more of their money on vacations. The airlines companies noticed this trend and began scheduling more flights to Goa. And over the years the tourism season in Goa disappeared. It became a year-round holiday destination. Goa 365 became a popular concept,” he said.
“The Indian tourists were spoiled for choice. They could get anything they wanted. A very unusual trend was noticed. We began seeing walk-in tourists. They would not book their rooms in advance. Families would just land up at the reception counter and ask for rooms. They did not take the precaution of making advance bookings,” said Srijit.
“Now Goa has more star hotels per square kilometer than any other place in India. The Average Room Rate or ARR as it is called in the hotel industry has not climbed too high. The Goa government says that it wants high quality tourists and wants to be known for many different attractions, not just beaches. But it will be difficult for Goa to rebrand itself,” said Srijit.
Infrastructure needs to be improved
“Moreover the roads must be improved. The colossal increase in traffic results in jams and accidents especially on occasions like New Year’s eve. Public transport is very poor. Taxi drivers charge whatever they want. These factors are keeping the foreign tourists away. Nowadays other options such as Thailand, Bali and Vietnam are more attractive to European tourists,” he said.
Apart from what the expert has said, it is obvious even to the layman that Goa has changed in recent years. It used to be a place which offered a unique holiday. Several years ago, a typical holiday in Goa used to be a very relaxing one. It meant lazing all day on the beach, eating delicious food cooked in shacks and taking a break from the crowded city life. It used to be a rejuvenating vacation.
No escape from crowds
But now one cannot escape crowds even in Goa. The noise of the traffic is unceasing. The main roads overflow with fast moving vehicles. Along with that, crime has increased. For those who are seeking lots of excitement and thrilling activity, Goa is still the happening place. Added to that is the glamorous identity of Goa as a place where film stars and other celebrities do their holidaying.
In the past, Goa also had a quieter image. The local lifestyle was a laid back one and not led at a frenetic pace. There were many people who used to travel to Goa to spend a few days relaxing in the sun, sampling local cuisine and listening to soft music. Such people must now look for other options.