Garbage, robberies keeping Britons from Goa: BJP leader

Panaji, Aug 12 (IANS) Goa’s burgeoning garbage problem, robberies near beaches and memories of the 2008 sexual assault on a British teenager are deterring tourists from Britain to visit the state, a BJP legislator said on Wednesday.

Michael Lobo, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Calangute, a coastal constituency which hosts the most popular beaches in Goa like Calangute, Candolim, Baga and others, mentioned it as some of the key concerns of tourists.

Saying that in view of the bleak perspective from the Russian market for the coming tourist season, Goa Tourism should woo back British tourists. Lobo said: “There are three reasons why tourist arrival numbers from the UK (Britain) dropped.

“One of them is bag snatching near beaches, sometimes at knife-point, the Scarlett rape case and failure to solve our garbage problem,” he said.

The legislator said a decade ago, the state drew nearly 1.8 lakh tourists from Britain which fell to 1.46 lakh in 2014.

In 2012, Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office had issued an advisory to its tourists travelling to Goa to be beware of bag snatching in and around the Calangute-Baga beach stretch.

The sexual assault and subsequent death of Scarlett Keeling, a British teenager, at Anjuna beach in 2008 had cast a doubt about Goa’s reputation as a safe tourist destination for women.

Goa’s inability to manage garbage, especially in coastal areas which often see heaps of filth on roads and fields, has also been a concern for tourism industry stakeholders who have pleaded with the Goa government to address the problem.

Lobo said with the Russian economy in crisis and the expected shortfall of Russian tourists for the 2015-16 tourist season, Goa’s tourism ministry should look to re-invest in tourism promotion in Britain.

Goa’s conventional tourist season starts in October and winds up in March when the mild winter sunlight works as a good break for travellers from Russia, Britain, Germany and Europe from the harsh winter.

Of the three million tourists visiting Goa annually, nearly half-a-million are foreigners.

Russians account for the largest number of foreign tourist arrivals followed by British tourists.

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