Taxes, taxis make holidaying in Goa dear

Yes Tourist Taxis are unfairly being targeted by tour operators and hotels . Why are Hotel rates and tour operators rates not being questioned and challenged ? why is a self driven tourist taxi who goes solely by the gazetted rate being victimised? Who stands to benefit if the taxis are done away with, is a question that needs to be answered

How long will Goa’s tourism with its high taxes, be able to withstand competition from destinations like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia or Bali? Tour operators and hotels, particularly the starred hotels, are already feeling the pinch with a reduction in charter tourists. This is further compounded by higher taxes (tourism related) compared to other popular destinations, and the chances are high that tourism in Goa may be at a disadvantage.

On an average, a foreign tourist holidaying in Goa has to shell out 25-30% more, compared to competing destinations.

Atish Fernandes, director of First Class Holidays, makes a point about other tourist destinations that vie for same tourism pie as Goa, “Consider this; the difference between hotel tariff for a night at a five starred hotel in Phuket, Thailand and a five starred hotel in Goa is about 7000-8000.”

Francisco de Braganca, former president, Travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG), says Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Bali, with better offers for tourists in terms of costs, are riding on higher growth and bigger volumes. “Only marketing and promotion or improvement in infrastructure is not enough. We need to have lower taxation and lower visa fees to drive higher growth, which will in turn bring in higher revenues,” said Braganca.

The newly elected president of TTAG, Savio Messias, said, “Goa needs to bring down the cost of holidaying here by offering subsidies for charter tourists, and reduction in visa fees, which is being done by other destinations. The TTAG would take up this issue on priority.”

Another factor that adds to the cost is taxi fare. Fernandes of First Class Holidays says, “When tourists come to Goa for a long stay, for more than two-three nights, he is bound to realize that he is paying more for taxi fare compared to other places. And it certainly makes a difference.”

On the plus side, he says foreign tourists who are considering Goa versus other South East Asian destinations, can make their travel experience wholesome by visiting exotic locations in other parts of India.

The tourist taxi issue has remained unresolved with taxi operators opposed to using electronic meters, which tourism stake holders believe is a shame especially that Goa is an international tourist destination, and yet the government has failed to enforce meters for taxis and other (tourist transport) vehicles.

A tour operator who didn’t want to be named, said tourist taxi operators may deny the allegations of overcharging levelled against them. If not all, some operators fleece tourists to earn bigger profit margins. The North Goa tourist taxi association (NGTTA) have always maintained that they are being unfairly targeted by the hotels and tour operators on this issue.

While the blame game continues, it is a fact that irrespective of being domestic or foreign, tourists shell out comparatively more for a holiday in the land of sun, sand and sea.