Goa’s Latin Quarter faces revenge tourism


04 Oct 2022 | 06:01am IST

Goa’s Latin Quarter faces revenge tourism

From intruding and unruly tourists to traffic jams in the bylanes leading from Sao Tome through Fontainhas to Mala, the residents of Panjim’s Latin Quarter are getting irked as these privacy is getting invaded. It is time to look at solutions to these problems that can lead to pleasant experiences both for the residents and the tourists

Dolcy D’Cruz

Panjim’s Latin Quarter has its own vibe with colorful walls and quirky features that amuses passerby. But when hordes of tourists start visiting the narrow bylanes of the wards of Sao Tome, Fontainhas and Mala, it makes one wonder whether the situation is getting out of hand. From liquor bottles found in flower pots to garbage strewn on the streets and ugly footprints left on freshly painted walls, the list of nuisance created by the tourists is long. While Goa is becoming a victim of revenge tourism, Panjim especially these wards, are facing the brunt.Imagine you wake up in the morning and walk to your verandah with your cup of tea and you notice strangers sitting in your living room and merrily clicking away , or your fast asleep in the morning only to be disturbed by photographers doing a pre wedding shoot at 6 am under your window. These are real incidents leaving the people of Fontainhas and Mala are completely irked. Aurobindo Gomes Pereira is a lawyer and associate professor at VM Salgaocar College of Law, Miramar, who resides in Sao Tome says. “A few days back, the District Magistrate, North Goa has notified the stretch of road at Sao Tome old Quarter, Panjim as ‘Non Motorized Zone’ within the jurisdiction of Corporation of the City of Panaji. We are also in conversation with the CCP to make it a no photography zone too. I am writing an essay for Justice Adda on solutions to the tourist problems and I have researched the examples of European cities like Venice, Barcelona and Amsterdam where they have rebooted tourism post the pandemic. To enter the city of Venice, you have to pay a nominal fee of 50 Euros but now you have to also give your mobile number at the entry point and through the number the movement of the tourist are monitored. We don’t want to reach such a stage in Goa. There is a need to have an identification of tourists and we need to cater to a traveler culture tourism. Now, we are receiving hordes of casino based domestic tourists who are clicking pictures at the doors of establishment and residences but there is no revenue to benefit the economy of the locality”. Eesha Dukle, a lawyer and a resident of Mala has to drive through the narrow lanes of Sao Tome and Fontainhas to reach her home. “A major issue is traffic in the area especially near Gallery Gitanjali and Desbue. People just come there and click photos and I don’t mind tourists coming to the area but there should at least have some civic sense of not standing on the road and blocking the traffic. It is a residential area so you can’t use the horn of the car. They won’t even move if they see the car which is very annoying. There is no traffic police in the lanes and we get to witness all the cringe-worthy couple shoots right from morning to evening,” says Eesha. An avid traveller, architect Neville Monteiro has traveled to over 50 countries and has seen how tourists behave abroad. With his office based in Sao Tome, he can empathize with the residents. “I used to live in Fontainhas before I moved to Caranzalem but I certainly feel that the situation has worsened post the pandemic. There are hordes of tourists walking not on the footpaths but on the road and there is no privacy for the residents of Sao Tome and Fontianhas. They are not interested in the area or to learn about the heritage. Guided tours should be encouraged but these tourists are only looking for good backdrops to click their pictures. Here they can get a feel of Europe without getting a visa and ticket. But they should behave like guests and not cause any inconvenience to the inhabitants,” says Neville. He further adds,” Civic sense should prevail and there has to be changes made in the area. There should be designated spots for garbage bins and even portable toilets should be installed away from residential homes. A heavy fine should be levied for violators so that even they feel the pinch. The government is promoting tourism in this are but the locals are not getting anything out of it. I know of families who are struggling to maintain their houses. The government should step in and help to keep up the facade of these wards. We need positive tourism but not such tourism that is detrimental to the city. Loitering is not acceptable in any part of the world and that should be allowed in Fontainhas and Sao Tome too. The evening and late night casino crowds are urinating behind the Sao Tome Chapel and the place stinks in the morning. This behavior is not tolerated outside the country and there has to be steps taken in the right direction.” Co-founder of Make it Happen, Murali Shankaran has nearly 3- guided heritage tours in a day in the Latin Quarter. He is completely supportive of the residents. “The residents are also completely supporting my tours as I am also against the intrusion they are facing. There should be heritage walks to sensitize the tourists about the residential sanctity. I feel that there should be quirky signage put up in the area to draw attention to the issues. These should be designed well by the government like ‘Don’t Click Photos’, ‘Don’t Park’ and ‘Don’t Lean on the Wall’. They should be eye catching and nicely designed. These tourists are flocking the area because they see photos on social media especially Instagram. If influencers put up reels on the dos and don’ts in the Latin Quarter, I think it would give out the right message and educate the audience,” says Murali, who has been organizing heritage tours for over seven years in the area.Noted photographer with a career spanning over thirty years, Rozario Estibeiro must have done just ten pre-wedding shoots in the Latin Quarter. Though a resident of Fontainhas himself, he feels there has to be some restrictions put in place. “Post the pandemic, there have been several Youtube and Instagram and even Fontainhas has now been put up as Fontainhas Photography Street on Google Maps. There has to be CCTVs installed and traffic police to control the traffic. There are five schools in the area and the tourists taking up space on the road is creating nothing but nuisance. In the morning itself, You will find four couples with the photographer and his crew members on different by lanes and roads. They even enter with vehicles in one way entry and park any where they like. No one is stopping them from clicking photos but at least do it decently and with proper discipline,” explains Rozario. Looking forward to the flock of tourists increasing in the coming months, it is time to make changes to improve the lives of those living in the Latin Quarter. Tourism is an important industry for Goa and there is also room for making vacationers stay a memorable one with the right approach.

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