Now, GCZMA nod must for beach weddings

The tourism department, since Tuesday, has stopped considering applications seeking permission to organize beach weddings unless applicants obtain permission from Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA).

If authorities do not come up with a tangible solution to deal with objections raised before National Green Tribunal (NGT), then Goa stands to lose its status as most sought after beach wedding destination, tourism stakeholders said.

Close to 200 beach wedding are organized in Goa during tourist season. The tourism industry’s dependence on ‘big fat Indian weddings’, has only increased over the years.

“The latest decision will hit the tourism industry very badly,” President, Travel and Tourism Association of India (TTAG), Savio Messias said.

“The GCZMA has been refusing to issue permission for beach weddings. Two days ago, GCZMA refused permission to a starred hotel,” Messias said and added that a regressive step of this nature will discourage potential parties and kill the brand built over last few years.

A tourism official said the matter will be discussed at the highest level, but as things stand today, only GCZMA has jurisdiction in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area. “The matter will be taken up with the GCZMA,” the officer said and added that any delays in getting permissions will drive away people looking at Goa as a wedding destination.

“When someone chooses to wed in Goa, the foremost thing on his/her mind is a beach wedding,” a tourism stakeholder said.

“If some wants to marry indoors, he can go to any part of the country. Why come to Goa?” he pointed out.

A wedding planner, who did not want to be named, said the cost of beach weddings range anywhere between Rs 15 lakh to a crore and more. The costs escalates if foreign artists are invited.

The 2011 CRZ notification and at least two high court orders have mandated that any temporary structure on the beach needs to have GCZMA permission. The GCZMA’s general guidelines that gave the tourism department a free hand in allowing beach weddings were withdrawn in 2014, a tourism officer said.

Interestingly, the tourism department continued to give permissions even after the guidelines were revoked.
Permission can be sought from the tourism department on payment of Rs 5,000 as application fee, and Rs 6,000 per day, for the duration of the event. “There were no objections whatsoever then,” the officer said and argued that if beach shacks, which are temporary in nature, can be allowed to be put up, there’s no reason why beach weddings should not be permitted.

The nature of the structure put up for a beach wedding is also temporary and is erected for a day or two, he said.