Sun, 07 Jun, 2020

Hedonism over heritage?

The central government’s decision to pick Colva beach from Goa among 17 sites from around India to develop as global tourism destination has attracted criticism from the Goans

07th July 2019, 02:25 Hrs

Jay Joshi

Recently, the Central government has proposed to develop a total of 17 sites from around India into world class tourism destinations. Along with sites such as Taj Mahal in Agra, Somnath temple in Gujarat, Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, one of the spots in the list is Colva beach from Goa. 

Goa is of course a globally popular destination known for its beaches, but the proposal to develop a Goan beach as an international destination has still brought mixed reactions from around Goa. Many Goans who spoke to TG Life felt that the government’s decision only reinforced the image of Goa as the go-to destination for beaches. Instead, the government could have chosen other historical heritage sites around the state which would have highlighted its culture and civilization. 

“The central government choosing Colva beach is rather disappointing. Goa has a rich history and heritage, and I believe the government should have chosen any of the historical monuments and sites to develop,” says archeologist Sawani Shetye from Panaji. “I believe that prehistoric Ponsaimol rock carvings should have been chosen for development. These carvings lie in mining belt. Developing them would help increase tourism in this area. Also, if these treasures are lost due to negligence, there is no way to bring them back,”  says Shetye

Ponda-based singer Gautami Hede Bambolkar states that historical sites in Goa need to be developed as it will help break the state’s perception as a heaven for alcohol and hedonism. “Most tourists and non-Goans relate Goa only to the beach,” says Bambolkar. “If you look at the list of places selected for development by the central government, you will notice that spots from all other states are historical monuments, and from Goa, there’s only the beach. This just serves to reinforce Goa’s typical image, and that is disappointing. We have so many sites other than the beaches, and the tourists have no idea about them. This needs to change,” says Bambolkar

Vasco-based photographer Tejas Pandit also opines that there are a number of beautiful beaches in Goa and wonders why the government chose Colva beach. “There was no need to develop a beach when Goa has so many historical and heritage sites. I do not understand what development you need on a beach. It’s just sand and sea!” expresses Pandit. 

Domnic Fernandes from Santa Cruz has a different question on this proposal. “Firstly, instead of just taking Colva, they could have looked at developing Goa as a whole because Goa is a small place. Secondly, I do not know how much development you could bring to a beach. Goa as a whole needs an upgrade of infrastructure,” says Fernandes.

Many others Goans that spoke to TG Life also stated that more awareness needs to be created among tourists about the history, heritage, and civilization that thrived in Goa to underline the fact that the state has much more than just beaches, which is a common perception of most tourists. Unfortunately, the decision of the central government to pick a beach over other sites for development has only cemented the popular perception that Goans have sought to change for a long time.

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