Shack owners cry foul over ban on Goa beach parties

December 21st, 2008 - 3:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Dec 21 (IANS) Hoteliers have breathed a sigh of relief at the government’s decision to exclude hotels from the ban on parties in Goa, but shack owners are crying foul over it. Gaurish Dhond, Goa Hoteliers and Restaurant Owners Association spokesperson, said the government had done the right thing by banning parties on beaches.

“Security cannot be compromised. And a ban on beach parties will not affect tourism in Goa much,” Dhond said.

He hoped that with hotels being allowed to organise parties and celebrations, tourists would now start making a bee-line to Goa.

Vice president of the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Manguirish Pai Raikar claimed that while the industry as a whole would have to pay a heavy price due to the ban, excluding hotels from the ban was a huge relief.

“At least the more secure, indoor venues have been spared from the ban. This is a good sign to some extent,” Raikar said.

The ban on parties on beaches and open areas comes into force from Dec 23 till Jan 5. Parties and celebrations held within hotel premises and other religious and traditional celebrations like the midnight mass and Christmas revelries have also been excluded from the ban.

The ban, however, has led to gloom for the owners of the several hundred shacks or makeshift thatch huts serving refreshments and alcohol on the beaches.

Cruz Cardozo, Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society president, claimed that the ban was mischievous in nature and smacked of the government’s bias toward rich hoteliers.

“Most shack owners were planning to hold modest New year parties. They are a source of income for us. The government’s decision has hurt us very badly,” Cruz said.

Already pushed to the brink following a lean season, Cruz promised retaliation if hotels organised their parties on the beaches.

“If there is ban, it should be for all. We won’t tolerate hotels organising parties on the beach,” he warned.

Cruz said that shack owners shell out Rs.30,000 as licence fees each month and that the government was not doing much to protect the interests of the shack owners.

“How will we survive? The government has failed to protect the interests of the people,” he said.

Another shack owner told IANS that the government’s ban would only fester corruption as there were several aspects in the ban that were open to a wide range of interpretations.

“Look, all your rave and beach party organisers will now have to bribe the district administration to hold beach and rave parties by applying for licences in the name of birthday parties and religious, traditional celebrations. This ban is only a new way to earn money. Terror is only an excuse,” said the Calangute based shack owner.

Goa has over 300 licenced shacks dotting its coast that are allowed to do business only during the tourist season after which the makeshift structures are brought down.

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