Maintaining dignity in tourism trade

Goa cannot have tourism being defined by vulgarities to attract additional footfalls; if things come to such a stage, then consequences could be bad

PACHU MENON | JANUARY 13, 2020, 04:04 AM IST


These days tourism as a generalised term seems to have pervaded every aspect of life. But it is difficult to imagine sex tourism universally topping the charts as compared to the other modes.

The World Tourism Organization defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination”.

Could the definition be more explicitly crass?

Yet, there are many cities across the globe which have vied for top honours as the sex capital of the world.

In fact, the name ‘Pattaya’ immediately conjures up images of an exotic locale that has gained popularity amongst pleasure-seekers for the type of ‘highs’ it offers visitors to the land.

Goa, by virtue of its centuries-old colonial traditions which has helped it maintain its European mien decades after its liberation from Portuguese servitude, has, however, shunned such dubious recognitions - so far - and has preferred to be acknowledged as the mesmerizing land of sun, sand and sea.

Even then the ‘sex’ factor has time-and-again come to haunt it! As Goa continues to be plagued by the proliferation of illegal massage parlours doubling up as whore joints, prostitution has been flourishing in the state as never before.

The state’s crime branch has been literally on their toes keeping abreast of the latest techniques employed in this line of business, busting prostitution rackets and arresting the kingpins. But the more ingenious among them continue to evade the police dragnet and manage to run their affairs with wanton impunity.

While the debates over legalizing prostitution rages on, it cannot be denied that tracking the sex trade is a Herculean task.

When a report compiled by local NGO Arz states that women from as many as 18 states across India are trafficked into the state’s sex industry, the message is loud and clear – prostitution in Goa is no myth and scales a dimension that is mind-boggling.

Razing Baina has not solved the problem as far as flesh-trade in Goa is considered. In fact, the demolition of large sections of the infamous beach settlement has only ‘relocated’ the bane of prostitution from the port city of Vasco to different corners of the state, and with a fair amount of inventiveness added to the whole business.

Hoodwinking the authorities, sly operators have managed to give new dimensions to their trade. And there have been several instances of the resourcefulness.

Smitten by the ‘online’ bug, the more enterprising of the lot have taken a giant leap from the era of high-profile call girls to usher in the age of escorts.

However, the argument that the escorts are different from prostitutes in that they are often considered part of the entertainment industry due to their grooming and training in order to meet the demands of the high society clients somehow strikes a false note.

More so, when an escort service is aptly synonymous with security agencies providing watch and guard services on demand. But as agencies providing escorts for clients, usually for sexual services, an escort is nothing but a glorified call girl.

The innumerable flights from major cities to Goa have facilitated the movement of ‘escorts’ at will who make their services available to local clients. Even otherwise, the logistics of demand and supply has ensured a steady market for ‘agencies’ doing a brisk business in the state.

Meanwhile, the ‘phoren’ craze of the customers has been amply fulfilled by a number of foreign cartels operating their crime syndicates along the coastal belts in Goa.

However, it is always numbing to have filth piling at one’s doorstep!

Startling revelations by the Goa Women’s Forum about online escort operations flourishing in Margao city and Benaulim and Colva villages come closely on the heels of reports of an escort service featuring availability of high profile call girls in Vasco and Sancoale on its website.

While there has been a general outrage against these lewd ads which also feature the photographs of housewives and college girls, one is reminded of similar advertisements splashed all over the social media some months back about a nude party being organized at Morjim with details being provided about the proposed venue and contact numbers for prospective customers.

Touted as an event that promised to provide ‘unlimited sex styles and class with luxury and comfort’, the ‘Private Goa Party’ threatened the moral fabric of the state.

Eventually, after raising a stink, the much advertised nude-party in Goa turned out to be as fictitious as the address.

For all we know as pranks being played by mischief mongers, the news about the ‘neighbourhood’ escort services too may fizzle out of public domain soon without much coming of the deliberations into the matter.

However, the issue does raise visions of being ‘possibilities’ in the near future considering the evident interest envisaged in such social media promos by many an ‘enthusiast’.

The efforts being made to petition the concerned authorities to take punitive action against the sleazy operators whenever such immoral goings-on are discerned hence assume great significance.

Moreover, does aggressive promotion warrant the exploitation of the ‘westernized’ aspect of Goa to further tourism prospects in the state?

As it is, the term ‘fun’ that a stay in Goa as place of merrymaking has come to be epitomized as has degenerated to mean anything but the pristine beauty and the rich culture associated with the region.

We cannot have tourism in the state being defined by vulgarities to attract additional footfalls. Have things come to such a stage where we even do not mind losing the last vestiges of pride we have been holding on to with respect to the inviolability of our land.

Goa is already singed by allegations of crimes involving sex and drugs negating its worth as a destination meriting repeated visits.

With ‘anything’ going for tourism these days, it is as much the responsibility of the state government as also the locals to ensure that Goa maintains its unique identity. Why should Goa live in a state of vice.

Basking all along in the glory of a celebrated tradition, it is indeed painful to have a sexual ‘distinctiveness’ of its metamorphosed culture attracting outsiders to Goa.

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