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Visiting Calangute? Beware, an Entry Tax awaits!



Visiting Calangute? Beware, an Entry Tax awaits!

Ah, the picturesque coastal town of Calangute in Goa – a magnet for sun-seekers, beach bums, and those in pursuit of a slice of susegad. But alas, the local panchayat (village council) has had enough of the unruly influx of tourists and their less-than-stellar behavior. In a move that’s sure to ruffle a few feathers, the village authorities have decided to implement an entry tax, forcing visitors to either show proof of hotel reservations or cough up the dough to set foot in this idyllic paradise.

It’s no secret that Calangute’s pristine beaches have long been a victim of tourist abuse. From littering and defecating in the open to packing into vehicles like sardines and leaving behind a trail of chaos, the local residents have had to bear the brunt of these unruly antics. “Groups of tourists, packed in jeeps, buses and other vehicles arrive at the beach, litter it and just go away without bothering to clean the place,” laments Calangute sarpanch (village head) Joseph Sequeira.

Calangute’s crusade for a better future

The panchayat’s decision to impose the entry tax stems from a desire to restore order and maintain the cleanliness of the village. “We want our village to be clean so that we can attract quality tourists,” Sequeira asserts, drawing inspiration from the example of Mahabaleshwar, a hill station in Maharashtra that has successfully implemented a similar measure.

The influx of tourists has not only wreaked havoc on the beaches but has also contributed to a significant increase in traffic congestion, much to the chagrin of the local residents. “The decision to impose entry tax was taken in order to maintain cleanliness and decency and reduce the traffic issues faced by the local residents,” Sequeira explains.

Starting from the next tourist season in October, visitors to Calangute will be required to either show proof of hotel reservation or pay a designated entry tax to gain access to the village. The panchayat plans to set up five checkpoints to enforce this new rule, ensuring that only those with a legitimate reason to be there are allowed in.

Exemption for locals: Preserving the village’s identity

It’s worth noting that this new entry requirement will only apply to tourists, not the local residents of Calangute. “These restrictions will only be meant for tourists and not the locals,” Sequeira clarifies, recognizing the need to maintain the village’s distinct identity and avoid alienating the very people who call it home.

The panchayat’s decision to emulate the entry tax system implemented by the Mahabaleshwar Municipal Council is a strategic move. “We will do it on lines of Mahabaleshwar Municipal Council,” Sequeira affirms, acknowledging the success of this approach in managing the influx of tourists and maintaining the town’s pristine condition.

The Panchayat’s next steps

The Calangute panchayat is scheduled to hold a meeting on Friday, where they plan to adopt a resolution making the entry tax mandatory for tourists. Once approved, the proposal will be forwarded to the district collector in Panaji for further action. If the plan receives the necessary green light, the new rule will be implemented starting from the next tourist season.

The panchayat’s ultimate goal is to strike a delicate balance between accommodating tourists and safeguarding the interests of the local community. “We want our village to be clean so that we can attract quality tourists,” Sequeira emphasizes, underscoring the need to maintain a certain standard of cleanliness and decency that aligns with the village’s vision.

While the entry tax may ruffle some feathers among the tourist community, the local residents of Calangute are hopeful that this measure will pave the way for a cleaner, more orderly, and ultimately more sustainable future for their beloved village. As Sequeira aptly puts it, “We want our village to be clean so that we can attract quality tourists.” And with the Mahabaleshwar model as a blueprint, Calangute is poised to embark on a transformative journey that could serve as a model for other tourist-heavy destinations across India, even if it means the days of unfettered access to Calangute are numbered.