Operators of beach shacks, temporary palm-thatched shacks which offer food and refreshments on Goa's beaches, have opposed a proposed move by the Tourism Ministry to fix a cap on prices of food and beverages.
A few days after Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said that steep pricing of refreshments in restaurants and beach shacks had triggered a drop in the number of tourist arrivals in Goa, Cruz Cardozo, who heads the Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society, said the government should first cap exorbitant pricing on the menus of starred restaurants.
"If the government wants to control prices, they should first control prices in five-star restaurants and not shacks. The prices there are exorbitant. The food and beverages sold in starred outlets are much more expensive than ours," Cardozo told IANS.
After Goa experienced a dip in the number of tourist arrivals for a second-year running, Ajgaonkar said the state Tourism Ministry was working on a mechanism to enforce capping of prices on menus in shacks and restaurants.
Blaming escalating prices as one of the reasons for the drop in the number of tourists visiting the coastal state, he said that any restaurant or shack which prices food and beverages above Rs 500 would be fined.
Cardozo, however, claims that tourism industry stakeholders, including the shack operators, should be consulted before working out such plans. Prices of food and beverage items, he said, were based on price of raw material which is used to produce the items on the menu, he said.
"If the raw material is expensive, then so will be the price of the food item. Can the Tourism Minister also cap prices of fish in Goa? The price of fish in particular shoots up in the tourism season, which forces us to increase menu prices," Cardozo said.
Goa's popular beaches have around 400 shacks, most of which are allotted seasonally. The allotted shacks, which are synonymous with Goa's beaches, have to be disbanded with the onset of monsoon every year.
The state is known for its beach and nightlife tourism and attracts more than seven million tourists every year, half a million of which are foreigners.
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