Domestic tourists find a walk on Goa’s beaches unsafe at night, but foreign tourists do not share the same concern, a study has claimed. Goa is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country and attracts nearly seven million tourists, which includes more than half a million foreigners. Over recent years, however, the safety of tourists, especially women, on the state’s beaches, has been an issue of concern.
The study, titled Safety Issues in Tourism in Goa — A Tourist Perspective, authored by Goa-based Dr Yasmin Shaikh and published in the latest edition of International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews, has recommended setting up of an all-women police force to instil confidence among women tourists, as well as a comprehensive effort to crack down on criminals preying on tourists in the coastal state.
“It is inferred that a majority of tourists found it safe to move about on the beaches during the day. While domestic tourists find the beaches unsafe during the nights, international tourists find it safe to be on the beaches during the nights,” the study has said.
According to the study, 62.19% of domestic tourists felt unsafe about spending time on Goan beaches at night. “Formation of an all-women police force for night patrolling will instil confidence among women tourists and intervene in an emergency situation,” the study said. The research, Shaikh said, involved interviewing 400 tourists visiting Goa, both domestic and foreign.
The issue was first highlighted following the sexual assault and subsequent death of 15-year-old British teenager Scarlett Keeling in 2008 at north Goa’s Anjuna beach. “The death of 15-year-old Scarlet Keeling has made this place a talking point and a pet bashing subject for the foreign media. The deaths of foreign nationals raise the question whether Goa is still a safe destination for tourists,” the study said.
A recent gangrape of a native young woman by a three tourists from Indore also heightened civic anxieties over the issue of woman’s safety on the state’s beaches. Last month, the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court directed the state government to set up a special cell for a focussed probe into the death of 245 foreign tourists over the last 21 years.
The study, which is aimed at researching the relationship between security issues and tourism, also said that a majority of the tourists claimed that medical facilities, as well as police assistance mechanisms, are not adequate at tourist sites and neither is information about dos and don’ts for visitors.
It also advocates that there should be greater emphasis on making tourists “feel secure and safe — essential to the international competitiveness of the destination” as well as prompt, efficient and tactful handling of crimes against tourists and night patrolling of beaches.
“When the environment is safe, the visitor is also safe. If the travel and tourism industry emphasises security, it will have a good chance of surviving,” the research paper said.