Tourism looking down the barrel as Poll Code comes into force in Goa. Tourism stakeholders cautious, say poll code should not interfere with tourists and tourism.
Just when the tourism season seemed to be picking up a bit, after taking a beating in the 2018 Christmas week, the Mode Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha polls and Assembly bypolls for three constituencies, is back again which would further dent businesses in Goa.
While the Lok Sabha election process during the peak of Easter celebrations has upset a large number of Goan Christians, the code of conduct is likely to also affect domestic arrivals in the State despite the poll schedule clashing with the extended weekend.
For a change, tourism stakeholders aren’t complaining about the possible drop of Indian tourists while others do not foresee any changes. Similarly, the night clubs, which are under the radar of the election teams during the entire period, have too extended cooperation.
However, once the restrictions come of closing liquor and restaurant businesses at 10 pm that is when everyone will start feeling the pinch.
Ricardo Joseph De Souza Partner of Tito’s club, a popular party hub, claims that such restrictions often have a negative impact on the tourists.
“We understand the code of conduct is to ensure free and fair elections. But what I fail to understand on the impact on tourists. The code should not interfere with tourism and tourists should not be harassed,” he opined.
Head of a reputed Hospitality Group Sahil Advalpalkar conceded decline in tourists owing to restrictions on liquor serving premises during the code. Nevertheless, he said, they are cooperative. “There would be an impact because not many people travel during this period. We are fine with the ECI monitoring activities in such premises, they are doing their job and we as responsible citizens should cooperate with them,” he said. The entrepreneur however apprehends that domestic arrivals will drastically drop as Goa approaches the voting day.
Industrialist Nandan Kudchadkar has said that ECI has not shut their businesses but are definitely keeping a close watch to ensure that code guidelines are not violated. “The ECI is considerate to Goa. We are a tourism State and ECI hasn’t closed down the night clubs but watching us. We too have to be responsible,” he said adding that dry days (imposed 48 hours before the voting and counting days) are essential. “One should not be intoxicated while voting so definitely dry days is also a must.
Nandan said Goa barely has 18-19 night clubs operating till post mid-night while the remaining close before mid-night. “It is easy for the ECI to monitor,” he opined.
“Elections will not have much effect on the industry. Domestic tourists might decide to postpone or pre-pone their holiday in Goa and avoid the April 23 (voting day in Goa). The industry is not much concerned about elections. We have to have elections and that’s how we feel it’s normal that tourists will reduce, because they too want to cast their votes in their respective states,” President of Travel and Tourism Association (TTAG) Savio Messias said.
He was backed by noted businessman Gaurish Dhond who claimed that barring dry days, the rest poll period would be normal for the tourism sector. “Tourists do reduce whenever the states go through the election process. But the code of conduct do not cause any harm because in any way, the bars and restaurants are open except during the dry days,” he commented.
Former member of the tourism trade body and renowned hotelier Ralph D’Souza however does not link the probable decrease in arrivals to the election code. He cited other factors like wrong promotions and wrong market to the downfall of tourism industry in the State. “We have seen so many elections. It hasn’t in the past and even now will impact tourism. The drop in tourism is in fact due to tapping of wrong market and promotion going the wrong way. As a result of this, we have been garnering lowest strata of domestic tourists,” he said.
The party houses with exception to a few too are unfazed with the code enforced till May 23 and also extended their support to the Election Commission of India (ECI).