PANAJI: The state government has authorized the “Goa State Shack Policy 2023-2026,” a set of guidelines to control the construction and distribution of beach shacks, deck beds, and umbrellas along beach stretches for the ensuing three years.
According to the new policy, the government will provide permits to run beach shacks for three tourist seasons, typically spanning from September 1 to May 31 each year. The temporary buildings were to be dismantled by law by June 10th. Only unemployed individuals with Goan residency would be granted licenses.
According to the policy, a total of 364 shacks, including 259 in North Goa and 105 in South Goa, have been allowed along the coastline of Goa.
The current stakeholders have, however, criticized the policy for a number of its terms.
The shack owners’ associations have strongly protested to the three-year licence period, arguing that the setup needs a large investment. If there is no guarantee that they will be able to continue operating the shacks when their license expires, the business may end up being unprofitable.
The requirement that applicants be unemployed, not receiving a pension, and not directly or indirectly participating in another firm is another flaw in the program, according to critics.
They point out that it is essentially impossible for an unemployed person to invest such a significant sum of money because building a hut may cost several lakhs to as much as one crore.
One of the more problematic provisions was a 60-year age restriction on applicants, which was present in the draft text but was deleted from the final version. Considering that building a hut may cost thousands of dollars, This irritated a sizable group of shack owners, who said it was a plot to bring in “outsiders” to take the place of the current operators.
While removing the proviso, the state government vehemently denied claims that it was attempting to bring in foreigners. It had stated that the age restriction was put in place to stop people from subletting the shacks.
Subletting of the shacks will result in a fine of 25 lakh as per the policy, which is 150 percent more than the current charge of 10 lakh. If the toilets connected to the shacks are determined to be “unhygienic,” a fine of 10,000 has also been imposed.
The government’s decision to loosen the requirements for eligibility in terms of experience has also drawn criticism. Previously, applicants with at least three years of shack operation experience received 90% of the available shacks, while applicants with no prior experience received 10%.
The new policy, however, allows for the distribution of 90% of licenses to individuals with at least a year of experience and 100% to those with no experience.
The stakeholders are also concerned about the policy’s implementation delay since September, which serves as the beginning of the tourism season, is almost finished. Ordinarily, the tourism agency provides licenses one to two months before the start of the tourist season.
The “Goa State Shack Policy 2023-2026” is poised to bring about significant changes to the beach tourism landscape in Goa.
While it faces its fair share of controversies, the policy aims to strike a balance between promoting tourism, preserving the environment, and providing economic opportunities for the local community.
As Goa continues to enchant visitors with its breathtaking beaches, this policy sets a new standard for sustainable and responsible beach tourism.