Tourism: Has Goa Killed the Golden Goose?

By Ashwin Tombat
14 October 2019 16:14 IST

A survey by, one of the world’s top accommodation booking websites, has ranked destinations that proved most popular for travellers to India in the first half of 2019. It gives a holistic overview of travel destinations and preferences of both Indians travelling within and international travellers coming to India in the first two quarters of 2019.

The surprises here are not just in the inclusions, but in the omissions. Goa, which was traditionally a popular destination for foreign visitors, is conspicuously absent from the Top Ten list for 2019. However, included in the Top Ten destinations for travellers from all countries visiting India in the first half of 2019 is the state’s traditional rival, Kochi. It was ranked at No: 7.

Europe has always been Goa’s main source of international tourists, whether it is British, Germans, Scandanavians or, lately, Russians. However, in the first half of 2019, Goa failed to make the list of Top Ten destinations of choice for European tourists coming to India. Kochi, however, is listed at No: 5.

Goa’s tourism woes don’t end here. Even with domestic tourists, Goa seems to have lost favour this year.  

“Beyond the metro cities like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata, scenic and beach destinations were among the popular choices for Indian travellers travelling domestically,” says the survey report. However, Calangute, the state’s top beach destination, was placed at a lowly No: 9.

Top picks for domestic travellers included Jaipur, Mysore, Ahmedabad and Ooty. Most alarming – for Goa – is that Kochi ranks at a high No: 2 in the domestic tourist Top Ten. Pondicherry, too, ranks higher than Calangute, at No: 8.

The Goa government’s figures show an upsurge of about 30 per cent in foreign tourist arrivals and a 22 per cent increase in domestic arrivals in 2017, falling to 5 per cent growth in foreigners and 3 per cent in Indians in 2018. Figures for the first five months of 2019 are more optimistic, indicating a 15 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals and a 30 per cent increase in domestic tourist arrivals.

But the apex trade body of the tourism industry in the state, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) seems sceptical of government statistics. Its white paper on tourism states, tongue-in-cheek, that the reported increase in domestic arrivals did not arrest a drop in average room prices and occupancy rates across Goa, indicating a dip in the quality of domestic tourism.

The Small and Medium Hoteliers Association of Goa is more blunt. Its President, Serafino Cotta, says lopsided regulation and a slack Tourism Ministry – which is busy selling "refrigerators to eskimos" through expensive but useless ministerial and bureaucratic junkets to ‘travel marts’ overseas – is squarely responsible for the tourism industry’s decline in Goa.

Whatever the reason, the Goa government needs to take immediate action to stop the state’s decline in tourism. The pharmaceutical industry and mining (in its heyday) may have contributed more to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), but there is no doubt whatsoever that the livelihood of over 40 per cent of the state’s population is directly dependent on tourism. If tourism declines, so do the fortunes of the average Goan.

Amidst the doom and gloom, there is a silver lining. has also compiled a list of the fastest growing destinations for foreign tourists travelling to India between 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2019. Placed at No: 6 on this list is Palolem, a non-mainstream beach destination in Canacona, South Goa. Kochi does not find a place in this Top Ten.

It shows that what foreign tourists want is not more Calangutes. They want off-beat destinations, as well as new and exciting experiences. Studies show, for example, that adventure tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry worldwide, and is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.4 per cent from 2017 to 2023.

The Goa government needs to regulate the tourism industry better. It must urgently rein in the tourist taxi drivers, regularise the mushrooming unregistered homestay sector and tackle the garbage menace. It also needs to aggressively encourage adventure tourism and alternative experiences, if it wants to salvage the fortunes of the tourism sector; Goa’s main source of employment.

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

Only 2 Floors Buildings and 1 Floor Bungalows should allow in Goa. Permission should not be given to 2 Floors Bungalows and 3 Floors Building. Goa must have 1 Floor Bungalows and 2 Floors Buildings only. With this Law, Environment in Goa will be Good & there will be No Pollution. Unemployment will reduce and Tourism will increase.

- Jack De Goan, Goa | 19 th October 2019 19:39


Good article

- Nicely studied article.. please take trouble to translate in Marathi n send to Babu .. tourism monster , Margao | 14 th October 2019 15:25


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