Harassment by the police was one of the reasons fewer tourists visit Goa for ringing in the New Year, state Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said Wednesday. The police should go after drug racketeers and not target "innocent tourists", he said. "There are several reasons why tourism has gone down. One of them is the harassment meted out to innocent tourists by the police department in Goa," Ajgaonkar told reporters. He was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting of MLAs to discuss the Draft Tourism Policy 2018. Police often stop tourists during the late hours and harass them, he said.
"Tourists are our guests. They should not be harassed this way. This kind of behaviour sends a wrong signal about Goa to the world," Ajgaonkar said. He dared the police to crack down on the drug trade instead. The minister was quick to add that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has always asked the police to crack down on the drug trade. Several other factors, including some new provisions in the Goa Tourist Act which are aimed at preventing unruly behaviour on the state's beaches, were putting off tourists, he said. Visa problems add to the hassles of foreign tourists, he noted.
The tourism department will undertake a drive to remove pesky hawkers and tourist beds which encroach on the state's beaches, he said. Drinking on the beach and smashing liquor bottles in the sand will be made punishable offences, Ajgaonkar added. Goa receives around 60 lakh tourists every year.
(With inputs from agencies.)