Mass tourism `is poisoning a paradise'

WESTERN package tourism is threatening to turn the Indian state of Goa, one of the newest and most exotic locations targeted by the holiday industry, into a 65km strip of concrete-lined beach "indistinguishable from Benidorm", it will be claimed this week.

Goa, "discovered" by hippies in the Sixties and now depicted in tourist brochures as an archetypal unspoilt paradise, is being "poisoned" by mass tourism, according to the pressure group Tourism Concern.

The group says Goa's "fragile ecology and unique culture are being systematically destroyed by hotel owners eager to cash in on the growing influx of tourists".

The allegations will be reinforced by Clive Anderson, the TV presenter and barrister, who, in a series starting on BBC2 on Friday, examines the local hostility to tourism in Goa - and advises Britons not to go there.

Britons in particular have been involved in tourism's impact. Roger Heape, managing director of British Airways Holidays, says: "The major impact on Goa and environmental issues has been the direct charter operation from the UK."

Officials estimate that the number of tourists visiting Goa has increased from 10,000 in 1972 to well over a million in the early Nineties. One reason has been the increased capacity in Goa's main airport, Dabolim, resulting from a runway extension.

Tourism Concern, which bases its charges on a new report from the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests listing widespread and "flagrant" breaches of environmental laws by hotels and holiday complexes, blames British tour operators which use the hotels responsible. It has asked operators to ensure that the hotels they use "do not contribute to the environmental degradation of Goa".

Nearly 20 British operators send holidaymakers to Goa. Many claim to have espoused "green" tourism.

In "Our Man In Goa", part of a new series on "troubled paradises", Clive Anderson says that in 10 years' time Goa will be "just one long strip of hotels and development indistinguishible from Thailand, Miami Beach or Benidorm". He suggests that "not too many of us should visit Goa. We should find somewhere else to go to, with a culture that is not so fragile and with very little of value that can actually be damaged . . . somewhere like Euro Disney."

With a rich mixture of Portuguese and Indian culture, and 105km of coastline - two-thirds of it sandy beaches fringed with coconut palms - Goa is expecting five million tourists by the end of the century. Its director of tourism sees the holiday industry as the "backbone of the Goan economy". Dozens of four- and five-star hotels and complexes are being built.

Local opponents of tourism, such as the Goan Vigilante Army, claim it has brought drugs, raves and child prostitution, and has raised food prices beyond the reach of residents. Tourist buses have been pelted with rotten fish and cow dung.

A report by the Goa Foundation, a local pressure group, accused the state government of overloading the Goan eco-system "with a stunningly large number of tourists whose extravagant demands may only be met by compromising the basic needs and rights" of native people.

Among the findings of the Indian national government report are that hotels have been sited illegally on the beach, beaches have been closed to locals, threatened mangrove and wetland areas have been reclaimed in breach of the law, sand has been quarried from beaches, trees felled, and dunes levelled to make artificial lawns. Sewage is being discharged on to beaches or leaking into paddy fields.

The report says motorised water scooters are "shattering the tranquillity" of beaches, and scores of illegal and ramshackle cafes and shops are being erected. It accuses the state of condoning "indiscriminate" large- scale commercial development.

The Goan government has got round the regulation which forbids building near the high tide line by redefining beaches as rivers. The report says this "defies all logic and common sense".

Among hotels mentioned in the report are the Goa Renaissance, the Cidade De Goa, Goa Penta, Leela Beach Resort, and the Dalmia Taj Village and Whispering Palms complexes.

Other claims examined in Friday's programme are that villagers have been "intimidated" out of their homes by hotel owners and hotels are using water from dams built to irrigate paddy fields.

Tricia Barnett, Tourism Concern's co-ordinator, said: "For several years Tourism Concern has been telling tour operators of Goan environmental groups' concerns about the continuing violation of local environmental regulations and people's rights. As the government of India issued a report which confirms these problems, UK tour operators can no longer dismiss these concerns as unfounded."

Roger Heape said that none of the hotels cited in the report was used by British Airways Holidays but he suggested that tourism in Goa should be subjected to an environmental audit.

Ms Barnett praised British Airways Holidays for being "positive and even- handed" but said that most operators, despite "clapping furiously" at the annual BA Holidays' "Tourism For Tomorrow" awards, held last week, did not recognise that they had any responsibility for environmentally friendly holidays.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?