Goa has been a favourite tourist destination in India since the 70s. Started as a part of hippie trail, Goa soon become a favourite shooting location of film industries of India and early 90s made it the first popular tourist destination inviting honeymooners, solo travellers and anyone who wanted to enjoy a little bit of sun and sand.
Goa is the perfect tourist destination in India. The food of Goa is amazing, the beer and alcohol is cheap and one can find nice stay options in every part of the state. Goa has backpacker hostels near every beach possible and the AirBnbs of the state provide a tryst with authentic Goan – Portuguese culture.
But with time, Goa has become a victim of over-tourism. Irresponsible waste management, food and drinks served in plastic, depleting marine life, loss of wildlife are just a few of the many examples that have ruined this destination from where there is no coming back.
But as a responsible traveller, you can help resolve these issues on your personal level. Small steps will help improve the condition of this pristine state of India and its aura will remain alive in times to come.
Here are a few tips that will help you travel in Goa more responsibly.
Book local stay homes and indulge in conversations about responsible travel
In Goa, a number of locals run their stay homes and Airbnbs. It is easy to book one especially when you want to avoid the typical hotels around beaches and enjoy some local experiences. When you book a hotel, you support a local business and this gives you an advantage of indulging with your hosts. Locals understand the importance of responsible tourism and conversations on topics like Global warming, climate change, ocean life and waste management will surely bear some result and they’ll share these ideas with their friends. This is not possible at a hotel or a resort.
Volunteer with a waste management organization if you are here for a longer time
Goa has recently seen emergence of many waste management NGOs and trusts that conduct regular cleanup drives around various beaches and tourist spots. Yimby is one of the popular ones that is based in Panjim. They update their social media profiles with regular dates for upcoming cleanup drives. If you are in Goa for a long time then it makes sense to join one on a cleanup drive.
Avoid drinking around beaches
Goa is synonymous with drinking but many tourists take their bottles of beer and glasses of alcohol around beaches. Your glasses of cold drinks, tequila and juices are not to be consumed around the beaches. The glasses and bottles are often left there and it goes in the sea which harms the marine life.
Reduce your plastic consumption especially around the shacks on beaches
Plastic consumption can easily be reduced in Goa. Instead of mineral water bottle, you can easily keep a reusable bottle. You can always say no to straw or choose a restaurant that offer paper straws. Goa may be putting a ban on single use plastic but that will still leave a lot of items that we use in our daily lives.
Dispose your waste carefully
Continuing the last point, there is no control on consumption of plastic and other non-biodegradable items. So if you are buying such items that you think will not decompose then you should dispose them carefully in a dustbin. Proper disposal of waste atleast gives the confirmation that it will be picked up by the authorities even if it ends up at a dumping site. Waste Bar Goa also offers free can of beer if you collect 5 empty cans and pay it as a fee. So there is a nice activity for you.
Goa is just not popular for its beaches. It is also popular for many treks especially around East Goa. Dudhsagar Falls, Tambdi Surla and Todo Waterfalls are just a few of the destinations that pass through wildlife sanctuaries or protected areas with immense biodiversity. When you plan a trek, inquire if walking on that route is legal or not and if it is approved by Goa Tourism. When you are trekking, maintain the route the way it has been. Don’t throw plastic and pluck off flowers from the route. Try not to disturb the wildlife by bursting out loud music.
Report sick/injured animals to animal shelters
Moving away from the issue of plastic and waste disposal, Goa is also one of the regions with a huge movement of vehicles. It is easy to rent a bike, car and taxi in Goa. Constant movement also puts many stray animals in danger. If you come across any such injured animals then make sure that you connect with an animal rescue centre.
Avoid water sports around new beaches
Baga and Candolim are two of the most popular beaches in Goa. But there are offbeat locations with less tourist population where people like to spend their time seeking some peace. Sadly, water sports have come up at these locations that are very much harmful to underwater life. Offbeat beaches are home to more animals as they don’t find the tourist friendly beaches an ideal habitat. When you choose watersports at offbeat beaches, the lives of these animals is also put in danger and they are forced to find a new home. This is also true in case of birds as they have to flee once human activity and noise increases in a region.
Keep an eye on turtle nests
Offbeat beaches are also used by turtles as nesting grounds. In the last few years, the number of these turtles has gone down due to tourist activity and pollutants in the sea, but there is a small number that occasionally comes to Mojrim and Agonda Beaches to lay eggs. If you are doing beach walks, make sure that you don’t stumble upon an egg or break it by mistake.
You can connect with Goa Turtle Nesting Centre at 098811 80540 in such cases and they’ll send someone.
Vanshakti is another NGO in Goa where you can connect in case you find an injured turtle or stray egg.
Avoid elephant farms and camps
There are many elephant farms and camps in Goa that offer ride to tourists. These animals are kept in harsh conditions and are only used for the entertainment of Guests. As a responsible tourist, you should not encourage this behaviour and always say no to these activities.
Don’t feed dogs or any stray animals
Goans beaches are infamous for stray dogs and other stray animals. These animals wander around in packs and are fed by tourists. The problem is that once the season goes away, the animals start harassing the locals which often results in bites. If you stop encouraging this behaviour by not giving them food, they’ll learn to stay away from humans.
Since animals get food easily, they also get more time to breed and hence the population has gone up. Let them find their own food so that the breeding slows down.
Don’t encourage begging
Begging is a very common issue in the state. Since it is assumed that westerners have a lot of money, some people find it easy to beg and make a living. The state also has a begging mafia running their business. We should stop encouraging beggars by offering them money. Also, one needs to report to police if they find something suspicious about them.
Responsible travel is the need of the hour and one must make sure that they are contributing their part in the well being off this beautiful destination.