Go Goa – only if you are upmarket and family
Goa, long a magnet for partying hippies, penurious college students and planeloads of foreign pensioners, now wants only “upmarket and responsible family tourists”, the Economic Times has quoted the state church as saying.
In a bid to restore some of the shine lost in the Scarlett Keeling case, the Goa church, which apparently plays a key role in the state’s politics, now wants to focus on family tourists who won’t bring further disrepute to the state that has had its name tarnished not just by the media glare on the booze and drug parties on its famous beaches, but also by violent protests against industrial development.
A family-focussed tourism policy will help attract more “upmarket, high spending” tourists, whose shorter visits will contribute more to the state, the Centre for Responsible Tourism was quoted as saying.
And just how will they ensure that a) you are upmarket and b) you are family? Will tourists now be required to carry bank and credit card statements alongwith their sunscreen and shades? Perhaps marriage certificates, as well, packed between the t-shirts?
Well done, Goa, for showing we’ve come a long way since clubs and restaurants barred entry to Indians and dogs.
Ironically, the government and corporates have, in recent years, encouraged middle-class Indians to travel more, with sops in the form of discount airlines and budget hotels.
They have even made noises about the fortune waiting to be tapped at the bottom of the pyramid. That is all just talk, apparently.
But Goa – which launched a cheerful ad campaign recently urging everyone to “go Goa” – is not alone.
Years ago, when a fancy mall opened in south Mumbai, entry was restricted to those with credit cards. The mall defended its action on the grounds that hordes of gawkers were getting in the way of “genuine” shoppers. Newspapers raised a stink and the practice died a quiet death, much like the mall itself, eventually.
More recently, a leading newspaper did a random survey of some of Mumbai’s top restaurants and bars to check their bias for foreigners. The conclusion: most of them preferred foreigners because they believed they spent more money, tipped more generously and behaved better than Indians.
And apartment complexes blatantly ban single people, people with dogs, people who eat meat and people of different religious convictions from renting in their buildings.
There’s no holding back the glee when an Indian company buys yet another British firm, no mitigating the indignation when a British TV show contestant is accused of racist comments against an Indian.
Sadly, there’s not a whimper when it comes to our own biases, it seems.