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March 4, 2024

Goa Beach Shack Owners Wrestle with Closure Threats Amidst Business Downturn

Amidst mounting challenges posed by a downturn in tourism and the looming threat of closure, beach shack owners in Goa’s famed coastal areas find themselves grappling with the aftermath of a recent directive from the Bombay High Court. The court’s order, mandating action against 175 unauthorized structures engaged in commercial activities in Anjuna, has sent shockwaves through the local beach shack community.

The Bombay High Court instructed the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) and the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) to initiate measures against these structures for flouting Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms and operating without proper permissions.

These temporary beach shacks, a hallmark of Goa’s tourist landscape, have been a source of livelihood for many locals, especially during the peak tourist season. However, the threat of closure looms large over shack owners, who have already faced a challenging season marked by delays in setup and a decline in foreign tourist arrivals.

Expressing concerns over the potential closure of their businesses, owners have reached out to the Tourism Department, seeking intervention to avert the sealing of their establishments in popular areas like Anjuna, Vagator, Ozran, and Chapora beaches. The Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society (GSOWS) has emphasized that these shacks have operated with due permissions from relevant authorities, including the Tourism Department, GCZMA, panchayats, and the GSPCB.

The situation has sparked debates over the classification of these structures as unauthorized, especially considering their seasonal nature and adherence to government regulations. Shack owners argue that they operate within the stipulated timeframe, adhering to government policies and undergoing the requisite licensing procedures.

However, the challenges extend beyond regulatory scrutiny, with shack owners also contending with dwindling business prospects. Factors such as delays in shack allotments, coupled with a decline in foreign tourist arrivals, have significantly impacted revenue generation this season.

The fallout from geopolitical conflicts, including the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine tensions, has contributed to reduced flight connectivity to Goa, resulting in fewer international visitors. Additionally, travelers, opting for alternative destinations like Vietnam, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, have further compounded the decline in tourist footfalls.

Data from the Ministry of Tourism underscores the stark reality facing Goa’s tourism sector, with foreign tourist arrivals witnessing a notable decline in recent years. While over 4.03 lakh foreign tourists visited Goa between January and November 2023, this figure pales in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, which saw over 9 lakh international visitors annually in 2018 and 2019.

Despite these challenges, domestic tourism remains relatively stable, with Goa continuing to attract a substantial number of visitors from across the country. However, the overall scenario underscores the pressing need for concerted efforts to revitalize Goa’s tourism industry and support local businesses grappling with unprecedented challenges.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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