On Monday, Goa’s Water Resources Minister Vinod Palyekar called for a state wide ban on late night partying, claiming that it was not part of their culture. Words like ‘drug-fuelled’ and ‘rave’ were thrown into the cauldron and needless to say, the scent was picked up by everyone in the loop. However, the state’s chief minister, Manohar Parrikar was quick to clarify that no ban was needed, as his minister was only referring to loud music beyond 10 pm, against which there already exists a law. But within the couple of days it took for the CMs clarification to arrive, youngsters from both Pune and Mumbai, who contribute to a majority of Goa’s weekend visitors, decided to make the best of the party capital, while it lasted.
Goa, before it’s gone
“Three of us booked our tickets as soon as we heard that all partying would end in a couple of weeks. We reached Goa on Friday morning and are so glad that this is a long weekend,” says Anurag Singh, who’s probably walking back from an all-night gig as you read this. Just like the 24-year-old media employee, many others made last minute bookings or cancellations. DJ student Swapnil Bansode, 22, for instance, is glad that his group of five did not book their tickets for the end of the month. “In Goa, people step out of their shacks only after 9 pm. If they’re going to shut at 10 pm, why would I travel 500 kms? I’d rather party in Pune,” he reasons, while Aniket Agarwal, a 22-year-old engineering student asks, “Why can’t the government just ensure safety and security of people instead of asking them to go to bed at 10 pm? I wanted to party hard after my exams and planned a two-day trip next weekend. But after this news I am reconsidering.” They all heaved a sigh of relief when we broke the news of CM Parrikar’s clarification to them.
80 per cent of visitors go for the nightlife
For a clear idea of the situation in Goa, we spoke to a local tour guide, Dazzle Mota. The 33-year-old Goan who works with goMowgli, specialises in the state’s history and guides backpackers from across the country and abroad. “I’d say that 80 per cent of the people coming to Goa – both Indians and foreigners – want to relax without deadlines. And 90 per cent of the the people who come here for weekends are from Pune and Mumbai. The beach parties are a huge draw and people come from mid-October to carnival, which is in February,” she shares, adding, “Though the people I work with are the ones who come to explore rather than party, a ban on partying post 10 pm will definitely affect tourism.” Mumbai-based tour operator and founder of ghoomophiro.com, Prachi Garg agrees, saying, “From a tourism point of view, banning late night parties would be a very wrong move. For now I haven’t received any queries related to the ban, as this is not peak time and people book by October. But Goa is a place that most people go to for the late night parties.”
Business of bookings
Because there’s no arguing with numbers, we decided to check with one of the country’s leading online travel portals about the status of their Goa bookings. “Our summer bookings for Goa are done well in advance and as of now, we have not witnessed any dip in bookings specifically for this reason. But it’s too soon to tell. We’ll have a better picture in a week,” informed a spokesperson for the company that did not wish to be named. On how much business they might lose if Goa bans its nightlife, an insider at an international travel giant, shared, “Out of the 100 per cent of our Goa business, 30 to 35 per cent comes from youngsters and that’s what we may lose.”
with inputs from Zainab.Kantawala@timesgroup.com