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“White Skinned” tourist arrival have dropped: Goa tourism minister

Foreign tourist arrivals in Goa have dropped this season, ailment according to the state tourism minister, Dilip Parulekar, much to the shock of his ministry.

Parulekar, who at the start of the season seemed gung-ho over the prospect of attracting record arrivals this season, acknowledged that the state has lost out to other competing Indian tourism destinations like Kerala and Gujarat. “Foreign tourists, white skinned tourists… who we call foreigners, have come, but less. Even the Russians are less,” Parulekar said. He was, however, unable to quantify the shortfall because his ministry was still in the process of collating statistics.

At the start of the 2012-13 season in October, an optimistic Parulekar had predicted that Goa’s tourist arrivals, normally in the 2.5 million range, would this time top 3.5 million by March 2013, when the season ends. Goa did have a whopping 8 lakh odd tourists visiting in peak December season. But Parulekar says they were mostly from the neighbouring states of Maharashtra or Karnataka. He said Gujarat and Kerala for taking away foreign tourists from Goa.

Nearly half a million foreign tourists visit Goa annually and nearly one-fifth of these are Russians. Tourists from UK rank second on the list of arrivals flocking the state’s warm beaches.

Jaundice scare in Panjim’s Latin quarter

Over 1,000 families residing in the capital’s Latin Quarter, Mala-Fontainhas, and the neighbouring Corte de Oitero area spent the festive season in fear of a possible jaundice (hepatitis) outbreak.

Water supply officials were on high alert since the Christmas-New Year week, struggling to plug seepage of sewage and de-contaminate water in pipelines supplying portable water to the Latin quarter. Nearly half a dozen residents have already complained of vomiting, bringing back decade-old memories when similar sewage seepage resulted in a major jaundice outbreak claiming six lives.

Although Public Works Department officials earlier this week claimed that “there is no more contamination,” there was no clarity on whether the root cause of the contamination had been identified and corrected.

The department’s executive engineer, Dilip Dhavalikar, who oversees all public works in the capital, said that water connections to six homes in the affected areas had been disconnected. He also said that spot testing of water in several areas had confirmed there was no contamination.

Dhavalikar, incidentally the younger brother of Public Works Minister Ramakrishna Dhavalikar, identified an ageing water supply pipeline as the cause for the contamination, but did not say at which exact point the sewage seeped into it.

If nothing else, the incident serves as a troubling reminder of the dangers of neglecting the state’s infrastructure – the root of many ills.