• Terra Conscious

The Goa You Never Look For

Updated: Sep 21, 2018

Being a tourist and living in a place like Goa are two drastically different experiences,

and I’d consider myself lucky for having had both of these experiences.



There’s so much more depth of experience when you’re living and working in a place in comparison to when you’re simply visiting the area for a couple of days, and in a place like Goa, this difference is exaggerated by the sheer scale of the tourism industry. The tourists visiting Goa outnumber the local populace by nearly 4 times, with nearly 64 lakh tourists annually (Goa Tourism Dept. figures) and a local population of 18 lakh people (2012 census figures). With numbers like this, it stands to reason that the tourism industry of Goa is the primary contributor to the state’s revenue. The majority of this tourism is focused on the beaches and coastal regions of the state, with the primary attractions being the cheap alcohol, beach parties and nightlife. There are very few people who’d come to Goa and not look for spending a couple of days on the beach with a bottle of beer or a glass of wine. I can say this with some amount of confidence, as I’ve been in that position. I came to Goa a year ago with my friends from college, and one of the beaches we visited during that trip was Anjuna. We sat at one of the several shacks on the beach and spent an entire day drinking beer, swimming in the sea and eating amazing food. We had come to Goa to spend money, drink and relax, and that’s exactly what we did. One year down the line, and I’m working in the marine conservation space in Goa. As a

tourist, there was little or no mention of the existence of local Goan population, let alone the existence of the possibility of a working life in Goa. The tourism industry has such an overwhelming presence in the state that the possibility of other jobs in Goa did not occur to me. After moving here, I met several amazing people doing some incredible work in the environmental space in Goa. I met activists protesting about coal issues I hadn't heard of, I met mining activists advocating for the introduction of a Permanent Fund for the citizens of Goa, which was an idea that I had never heard of until that point. The change in my understanding of Goa did not just stop there. My colleagues and I were curious about the animal life that existed in the rock pools of Anjuna. That was my second visit to that beach, but for a very different objective. I was there to actively engage with the natural environment and see what kind of wildlife could be there in an area with such a strong tourism presence. And Anjuna did not disappoint. The range of life that we saw in the rock pools near Anjuna was awe-inspiring! We saw fishes, sea anemones, sea urchins, small corals and plenty of crabs. We went hopping from one small rock pool to the next, trying to anticipate what we would see in the next football-sized rock pool. And all of this less than 100 metres away from where I was sitting one year ago drinking a beer and laughing with my friends! When I look back to that leisurely trip with my college friends, I wish I could kick myself for not even bothering to look for what wonders a beach like Anjuna may have to offer to a passive tourist.And that’s actually all the difference that there was between those two visits to Anjuna — on the first trip I didn’t engage with my surroundings, and on the other, I did. A simple desire to engage with one’s surroundings is what made my second trip to Anjuna that much more wholesome and invaluable. I never imagined that I would see so much natural biodiversity and beauty, and that too in Goa, of all places. The mental image that I previously had about Goa left little or no room for the idea of forests, birds, hills and tigers. The messaging and advertising of Goa was so overwhelmingly about the parties and nightlife expect there to be water sport activities in The Amazon Rainforest, or to arrive in Mumbai or Delhi while expecting a rustic, village-oriented experience. So much of what one expects from a certain place is based on how its advertised and spoken about, that it would be extremely hard to break away from those constructed impressions and expectations. It would be extremely unfair to ask someone who’s arrived in Goa to attend parties and drink cheap alcohol to change their entire approach to their travels. Asking these people to change their mental image of Goa would not be enough to introduce a sensitivity towards the environment. One would also have to introduce widespread changes in the advertising and marketing of this tourism industry — and at least incorporate a sensitivity towards the natural environment of Goa. Maybe then people could enjoy their beer and parties, without throwing the bottles or cans into the sea? Could have to be incredibly optimistic to

expect there to be water sport activities in The Amazon Rainforest, or to arrive in Mumbai or Delhi while expecting a rustic, village-oriented experience. So much of what one expects from a certain place is based on how its advertised and spoken about, that it would be extremely hard to break away from those constructed impressions and expectations. It would be extremely unfair to ask someone who’s arrived in Goa to attend parties and drink cheap alcohol to change their entire approach to their travels. Asking these people to change their mental image of Goa would not be enough to introduce a sensitivity towards the environment. One would also have to introduce widespread changes in the advertising and marketing of this tourism industry — and at least incorporate a sensitivity towards the natural environment of Goa. Maybe then people could enjoy their beer and parties, without throwing the bottles or cans into the sea?Kanishk Srinivasan Image credits: Abhishek Jamalabad;https://mulpix.com/instagram/goa_beach_friends.html

About the Responsible Tourism Collective

The Responsible Tourism Collective of Goa is a group of like-minded businesses from Goa who promote Responsible Tourism Practices and Eco Conscious travel.

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