Panaji: Goa Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai lashed out at domestic tourists on Friday, calling them "scum of the earth" and alleging that "North Indians" are trying to "create a Haryana in Goa."
Speaking at the Goa BizFest in Bambolim, he contradicted Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's ambitious target of one crore tourists and asked the government to target foreign and upper-class Indian tourists.
Sardesai is part of the Goa Forward Party, which is in alliance with the BJP in the state government.
The minister was addressing an audience of industrialists and experts from the tourism industry and after speaking briefly on the essentials for a smart city and garbage segregation Sardesai veered off to the quality of tourists visiting Goa.
Contradicting Parrikar's push to increase tourists to Goa to one crore, Sardesai said: "Today we have almost six times population of Goa coming as tourists. Those tourists are not top-end tourists, they are also the scum of the earth. Are they responsible? They are not. If you compare Goans to rest of India, we are high in per capita income, social and political consciousness, we are much superior than people who are coming in. Those people, how you will control (them)? Can you control them?”
“We could control them at one point in time. But we jumped the Russians… We decided to put all eggs in one basket. The British have gone away. And, now we are dependent upon the north Indians and this is what they do. They are not bothered about Goa. They want to recreate Haryana in Goa,” he added.
Sardesai, however, told the media that his remarks were in reaction to a bureaucrat who spoke right before him and referred to increased garbage.
“Also, look those who come from Delhi, Haryana and Gurgaon, they have a tendency, they want to gobble everything. We In Goa have a certain way of living. Fifty years ago, we fought a battle and refused to merge with Maharashtra. Now we are fighting another kind of battle where these FSI people are coming and affecting our ethos. Why cannot they stay in hotels? They come and buy plots here and keep building,” Sardesai said.
Sardesai's vision of tourism reeks of sheer elitism as he goes on to explain his idea of model tourism, where the rich visit Goa to benefit the state's poor.
“It’s an idea I always have had. It all goes back to what Sir Vivian Richards told me at a tourism meet…He said, we can have the best beaches, best architecture, best beauty, but if we don’t have a golf course, it amounts to nothing,” he said.
“The trick is to attract the rich tourist. That stayed with me. It has left an effect on me. I want to think in those directions. Here too, among foreigners, we have Russian tourists, we have put all our eggs in one basket. World over, international tourists leave when Russians come. We all need to look at all of this and I think from a regional point of view, cause that is my ideology. We need to now think what kind of tourist we want to welcome?” Sardesai added.
This is not the first time Sardesai has made such distasteful comments about tourists visiting Goa.
At a public gathering in January, Sardesai had said, “Goa should become so expensive that tourists should say that it is not worth coming to Goa. Which tourists? The Indian tourists. We must have high-end facilities and get high-end tourism, which benefits the sons of the soil."
He took it a notch higher at the Biz fest as he said, "You have to orient the people correctly. Tell them brand Goa sells. People will keep coming. You need to get rich because of rich Indians coming here, and not due to poor Indians who is coming here and dirtying here."
“But we also have to accept when you are calling a crore and 20 lakh tourist into the state, you will have to give them facilities. If you don’t give them facilities, they wouldn’t come here. There are better places,” he said....