Tourists who don’t respect Goan culture not welcome

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Tourists who do not respect the culture of Goa and create nuisance by littering on the beaches or taking narcotic drugs are not welcome in the state, Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

The minister also said that existing laws were not strong enough to tackle the nuisance created by hawkers on the beaches in the state

“I still say we don’t want tourists who arrive here and create nuisance and do not respect our culture. We don’t want them if they litter on the beaches or do drugs,” he said during the Question Hour.

The minister said tourists often created nuisance on the streets after getting drunk.

“There is a difference between a drunk Goan and a tourist who is drunk. Goans will walk straight on the road while tourists walk shaking their body,” Ajgaonkar added.

Speaking on issues of stray animals, garbage and illegal hawkers on the beaches in the state, he said although the tourism department was working to tackle those, the issues persisted.

“The existing law does not have teeth to handle these issues. We clear the nuisance but it resurfaces. We want to strengthen the existing Tourism Act,” Ajgaonkar said.

He said the India Reserve Batallion (IRB) personnel posted on the beaches do not have enough powers and have to depend on the local police to take action.

“Whenever we confiscate things from hawkers present on the beaches illegally, they just run away. They never come to pay fine or take back their belongings,” the minister said.

He said the director of Tourism had issued a circular listing banned activities on the beaches.

About the menace of garbage, Ajgoankar said the department had launched a WhatsApp helpline to tackle the issue.

“If anyone sends a picture of garbage on a beach, it will be cleared within 12 hours,” he said.

In February this year, Ajgaonkar had said he would chase away tourists who did not respect the Goan culture. “Tourists who come here should take care of Goa’s culture and Goanness, otherwise I will chase them away,” he had said.

Days before his statements, his cabinet colleague Vijai Sardesai had called a section of domestic tourists “scum of the earth” and urged Goa to look for “qualitative and not quantitative” tourists.

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