Learn from Croatia: Goa needs a Marina

By Ashwin Tombat
06 October 2019 10:31 IST

Croatia is a small country in Europe. Most of its people are Roman Catholics. Nearly everybody in Croatia knows about Goa. When my son with a group of his friends toured Croatia last year, they were welcomed as family by locals everywhere, because they were Goans.

This is because of the Church of Sao Bras in Gaundalim, near Old Goa. It was built in June 1541 by Croatian shipbuilders. It is a miniature replica of the Church of Svete Vlaho (Sao Braz) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. A 15-member official Parliamentary delegation from the Republic of Croatia, accompanied by Croatia’s Ambassador to India Zoran Andric, visited this church in 2016.

Unfortunately, not many people in Goa know about Croatia. Awareness of this country did increase sharply last year; only because Croatia’s football team created history when it reached the final of the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia. Sadly, it lost 2-4 to France.

Goans should know more about Croatia.

It was a part of the former Yugoslavia, which disintegrated in 1991. This led to a civil war that lasted till 1995. Dubrovnik itself was under a siege by Serbian militias for seven months and suffered significant damage from artillery bombardment.

During the civil war, between 1990 and 1993, Croatia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 40 per cent. Today, less than 20 years later, Croatia is classified as a high-income economy by the United Nations.

The reason for the turnaround? Nautical Tourism.

Since the end of the civil war, nautical tourism grew rapidly. Croatia got more than 11 million tourists last year, over 10 times as many as Goa and more than the whole of India.

Croatia’s tourist industry is concentrated along its coastline. Of the 83 ports of nautical tourism on the Croatian Adriatic coast, 50 are marinas and 33 are anchorages with moorings; totally, there are 15,500 berths for yachts.

In Croatia, nautical tourism (marinas and yachting) has proved to be one of the most propulsive and stable forms of tourism. The number of nautical tourist arrivals constantly grows from one year to the next.

Nautical tourism attracts the most demanding and highest spending clients, and initiates a number of accompanying business activities that directly benefit the local people in the village where the marina is located. Running small restaurants. Bike and car hire. Taxi services. Laundry services. Repair services for boats, as well as for gadgets in boats. General stores. Grocery shops. Small event organisers. Fisherfolk who sell fresh fish at premium prices as soon as it is caught… The list is endless.

Then there’s jobs in every marina. Worldwide averages suggest a minimum employment rate of 1.25 employees per berth. This means that a marina with 239 berths will generate at least 298 jobs. Even if we deduct all managerial and even supervisory jobs from this number, it means not less than 200 jobs will go to locals.

Those who are more enterprising can get trained in skilled professions through the marina’s sailing school, get some experience working for the marina, and then go abroad and do the same job at a much, much higher salary.

Why did I choose that particular number (239)? Because that is the number of berths in the AHOY marina that is proposed to come up in the sea off Nauxim village in the Curca-Bambolim Panchayat. A public hearing in the matter of this marina is to be held on Saturday 2 November 2019.

Some people addressed press conferences to oppose it last week.

Among these people are a few villagers from Nauxim. A few others are from surrounding villages. Then there are do-gooders, who sincerely think they are ‘preserving’ Goa. Last are the out-and-out opportunistic politicians and would-be politicians, who are basically interested only in their own visibility and ‘victories’ to impress their electorates.

Some of these people do not have the right information about this project, or about marinas in general. They need to find out more, before they take a stand. Others are simply more interested in their own future, rather than in the future of the people of the area.

Croatia has 116 Blue Flag beaches, which bring in lakhs of high-spending tourists. But the alleged representatives of the fisherfolk in Goa oppose even one Blue Flag beach for Goa…!

I have already explained how the marina will benefit the villagers. But what about the fisherfolk? Won’t they suffer?

Not at all.

Nauxim’s fisherfolk will greatly benefit from the marina. The marina structure itself will serve as a huge breakwater for the village, making Nauxim a round-the-year harbour. The village’s small fishing canoes will be easily able to anchor in the sea and go out for fishing throughout the monsoon, thanks to the marina.

The rubble mound breakwaters of the marina will act as an artificial reef and promote breeding of molluscs and fish. This will enable a record catch of Xinnaneo and Calvam, in addition to small and large fish. Those who fish for Muddoshi, as well as those who use a Catalem or Maag, will both increase their catches manifold.

Every development has side effects; some temporary, others permanent. A marina is no different.

There are bound to be problems during the period of the marina’s construction. It is like the problem people in Panaji and Porvorim faced when the third Mandovi bridge, the Atal Setu, was being built. Or the traffic jams and bad roads we are presently enduring because of the ongoing construction to convert National Highway 17 (now NH66) into a four-lane expressway.

But see the enormous conveniences after the Atal Setu was opened; the problems lasted a few years, but the benefits are permanent. The highway story will be similar, once it is complete.

During the two or three years of the marina’s construction, the people of Nauxim are bound to face problems. One permanent side effect will be the one lakh sq metres of water area that the marina will occupy; but compared to the size of the sea, it is really not so much.

The permanent benefits will outweigh the temporary disadvantages overwhelmingly.

Personally, I have always opposed mega-projects. But, this time, I think the marina project has more benefits than disadvantages for all stakeholders. You should think about it, too, dear reader.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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Previous Comments

Yes Goa needs Marina's , not one , many. Goa should allow private companies to participate. It needs Cruise terminal too and should become more like Macao , Las Vegas at least in Panaji. All beautiful churches must be well maintained, and all roads must be corrected and decorated . Public beaches to be cleaned , more coconut trees and other flowering plants systematically maintained decks and beaches

- Vineet, Karnataka | 17 th March 2020 00:27


Dear Ashwin,

Thank you very much for your your thoughtful and informative article.

Yes, you are right that goa people shall not forget Croatia and attract Croatia Tourists more.

Travelodesk would be very happy to help Croatian to provide them travel services in North & South Goa.


Sushil Kumar

Managing Director


- Sushil Kumar, Delhi India | 07 th October 2019 11:38


Very well written. Thanks

- Atul Jadhav, Vasco-da-Gama Goa | 06 th October 2019 23:35


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