India: Goa's golden goose of tourism hurt by overexploitation

Govt says visitor numbers are rising but hotels, tour operators claim official fumbles are killing the industry

The planeloads of foreign tourists and pleasure-seekers are no longer descending on the coastal state of Goa — a bastion of Christianity in India — with such regularity, lured by its palm-fringed beaches and hippie vibe.

The lines of local tourists vying to try their hand at jet-skiing or paragliding have also shortened in this former Portuguese colony that sits on the country's western coast.

For the first time in years, hotel occupancy rates reportedly shot down to around 50 percent on average over Christmas and New Year, significantly lower than in previous peak seasons in this former tourism hot-spot.

But now Goa's tourism industry is in trouble, industry experts say, and increasing costs are just one factor.

Britain's Rob Humper has been a regular visitor in the past but he doesn't plan on returning anytime soon.

"We're backpacking folk. The food here has been really good, but we won't be coming next season. It's hard to afford the taxes, visa prices, and the ever-growing basic room rates, and even harder to find available trains," he said.

"I don't blame the locals for wanting more profit, but I wonder if they've shot themselves in the foot," Humper added.

Other tourists have taken to social media to express their gripes, especially about what they see as over-inflated prices.

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