Empty shacks keep tourists away from Goa beaches
Panaji: There is little business at the Goa beaches at the start of the peak tourist season because allotment of beach shacks has been delayed.
"I have never seen Goa like this. It is so lifeless. Look at the beaches. It's only private shacks that are open presently and they are very few. It is a very disappointing scene," Abhishek Gupta, a tourist from Mumbai, told a news service.
A dispute between the Shack Owners Welfare Society (SOWS) of Goa and The Goan Traditional Shack Owners' Association (TGTSOA) over the criteria of allocation has delayed the process.
As per the government's policy those with experience of 10 years and above were to get first preference in shack allotment while those with 6-9 years' experience were to be considered next and those with 1-5 years came last.
SOWS -- a group with over 300 members -- agreed. But TGTSOA challenged the policy in court. It wants allotment through draw of lots. The Goa bench of the Maharashtra High Court ruled in its favour.
An aggrieved SOWS appealed to the Supreme Court, which has ordered status quo till Friday, when it will hear the matter.
"This conflict has spoiled our business. Not many tourists are coming, especially foreigners. They are our main customers and this season, when there are no shacks, they too are shying away from coming here," Dominic Parera, a lone shack owner on Coco beach, North Goa, told a news agency.
"The kind of money we spent on getting a licence for these shacks is way too much. It would be difficult for us to recover the costs if the court keeps on postponing the allocation," he added.
A shack licence for six months, November to April, costs around Rs.25,000. Then there are excise duties, liquor licence fees, food licence fees and so on. The overall cost comes to Rs.60,000-80,000, Parera said.
"The cost varies for different beaches, depending on their popularity and location. When we are paying so much, it is important for us to recover the cost. Business this time is so bad that things seem very bleak," he added.
Like Parera, shack owners and tourists are hoping the dispute will end soon so that Goa beaches get back to their normal state of tranquil business.