Panaji: Visiting Goa during the next tourist season? Here`s a heads-up. Drinking in the open on beaches and cooking in public is out, but CCTVs on all major beaches and courteous policemen eager to help out tourists might be in.
Drinking, however, will continue in the innumerable licensed shacks that dot the beaches.
This, as the tourism department looks to revamp the experience for the over three million tourists who visit the beach tourism state annually.
Drinking in the open on beaches is a regular feature in Goa, where downing a chilled, frosted beer in the winter sun before or after a swim is virtually a rite of passage for tourists.
The tourism ministry has already declared drinking on beaches a "nuisance". Those who continue to do so, will now have to shell out Rs. 5,000 to the patrolling policemen as a fine for the indulgence.
"The IRB (India Reserve Battalion) personnel are deployed on all beaches of Goa and have been sensitised to take strict action against drinking in the open on beaches, garbage dumping, littering, security of tourists, especially women, and prohibiting hawkers and beggars on beaches," Deputy Director (Tourism) Pamela Mascarenhas told IANS. The IRB is a reserve battalion of the Goa Police.
The police have also been especially instructed to keep vigil for groups of tourists who travel to Goa in rented buses, which also end up as their living quarters to cut down on hotel costs.
"It has been noticed that tourists coming in tourist buses are found cooking on the roadside thereby creating a nuisance. The Goa government will soon pass an order barring such activities on the roadside," Mascarenhas said.
Beggars and vendors will also be banned from Goa`s beaches, she said, adding: "There will be zero tolerance for beggars and hawkers on beaches."
"The IRB will also be deployed at the Calangute promenade and action will be taken against vendors and tourists who litter the place," she said. Calangute is one of the most popular beaches in Goa and is on the itinerary of the bulk of domestic tourists to the state.
Mascarenhas also said that the Tourist Police had been entrusted with the responsibility of safety of women and foreign tourists and has been instructed to intervene immediately if they "notice incidents such as harassment and troubling (of) women especially foreign tourists".
Goa is one of the most popular beach tourism destinations in the country. Of the three million tourists who visit the state annually, half a million are foreigners - primarily from Russia, Britain and Germany - who prefer Goa`s mild winter sun from October to March, a time when its freezing cold in Europe.
The tourism department`s promised crackdown comes in wake of several crimes, especially against foreigners, in the coastal areas, which have marred Goa`s reputation and reduced it to a drugs and sex tourism destination.
Sensational crimes against foreign women tourists in the recent past had put Goa in the international spotlight, forcing the authorities here to step up measures for the safety of visitors.