The Goa cabinet yesterday amended the Registration of Tourist Trade Act to take on badly-behaved tourists as well as illegal online service providers. To begin with, impromptu alcohol-fuelled beach parties will no longer be tolerated.
"People found creating nuisance like drinking in public or cooking in the open will be fined... While an individual will be fined Rs 2,000, a group indulging in such an offence will be charged Rs 10,000," Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar told the media on Thursday, adding that in case the fine is not paid, the offender can face imprisonment of up to three months.
This development is in line with Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's long-standing promise to ban drinking of liquor in public places. He had promised to amend the laws to this effect in September 2017, a few months after the North Goa District Police had ordered a crackdown against drinking at public places following complaints filed by the locals. The latter were reportedly sick of the nuisance created by drunken revellers, including breaking bottles on the beaches.
"Nobody can drink alcohol on our beaches and tourist places any more. Bottles cannot be carried there," IANS quoted Ajgaonkar as saying. This amendment comes amid declining tourist footfalls in Goa. Savio Messias, the president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, previously told the news agency that the dip in 2018 was as high as 30% compared to the last season, which had seen over seven million tourists. Meanwhile, the tourism and travel industry stakeholders have been blaming the government for poor vision as well as the lack of will to attract "quality tourists".
The cabinet reportedly also cleared another amendment to the Registration of Tourist Trade Act that proposes to penalise those who provide online booking of accommodation or other tourist-related activity without registering with the tourism department.
The amendments will be tabled for passing in the upcoming session of the State Assembly, which begins on January 29. According to Ajgaonkar, once the amendments come into force, photographs of offenders could be sent across to the Tourism Ministry on WhatsApp and action would be taken against them within 12 hours.
(Edited by Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal; with PTI inputs)