The recommendations, reissued by the Tourism Board on Friday, are a clear document of dos and don’ts for visitors, both from the perspective of tourists and locals, and make for interesting reading.
Tourists are warned not to hire a private car or vehicle without a valid permit from the Department of Transportation. While the issue of burning out taxis remains unresolved, the recommendation clearly tells tourists not to hire private taxis, but to request meter fares to avoid overcharging. On another note, tourists are advised to book their accommodation in hotels, villas or residences registered with the Ministry of Tourism.
Another notable item on the list is advising visitors to respect the privacy of others and not take selfies or photos of other tourists or strangers on the beach while sunbathing or swimming. There is also a directive against illegal solicitation for water sports activities and cruises, but Goa Tourism must insist on a recognized travel agent.
The fine-tuned recommendations detail local rules while also revealing the extent of illegality in tourism.From airport taxis to beaches to water sports, there are many things to watch out for.
The point is that much needs to be done to remove the illegal activities that disrupt tourism. First, you need to make your choice clear to your visitors. For example, while it may be a good idea to insist on metered fares, this also shows that there is a lot of uncontrolled, non-metered business going on.
Another point is to book a registered accommodation. The flip side of this story is the numerous abandoned private residences that provide accommodation for tourists. Government agencies fail to crack down on such illegal activities, leaving unnecessary confusion in this area as well. Despite the restrictions, hawkers, barkers and beggars can still be seen strolling the beach.
Issuing recommendations is good practice when instructions are followed strictly rather than formally. Massive awareness is required. The tourism department must reach out to all tourists, so they must flash all entrances to non-popular destinations in the state. Tourists, both desi and foreigners, are often seen driving on the beach, drinking on the beach, cooking outdoors, and changing clothes, although both desi and foreigners are ignorant of the local laws. A high level of awareness is required when a certain level of discipline is being enforced that deviates significantly from established practice. And crackdowns are required following recognition.
Issuing recommendations may be a good start, but the time has come for the tourism sector to start introspection about the impact of these directives. There’s a point, but if tourism has to move to the next level, the department has to clear up a lot of the confusion we see on the ground.