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Despite bad press, Britons say Goa is still a great place

March 14, 2008 11:30 IST

Goa has received some bad press in the British media after the death of teenager Scarlette Keeling, but there are many there who continue to repose faith in the delights of its sun and sand.

Tour operators say there has not been any let up in holiday bookings in Goa. Many Britons follow the daily reports on television and newspapers, but have not changed plans to hop on to chartered planes to Goa due to the incident.

Many Britons flock to real estate exhibitions in London, Manchester and elsewhere to buy property in Goa. Many have relocated to Goa, and some reports from Goa quote them as saying that they feel 'very safe' in Goa, and would never move back to the UK.

An army of British journalists has flocked to cover the Scarlette case. Apart from reports about the progress of the case, some have lamented the changing nature of what Goa offers for tourists.

Is Goa still safe for tourists?

But there are many such as Mike Ryder of the Daily Mirror who send glorious accounts of the great time one can have in Goa.

In a detailed report titled 'Try India's funky holiday state of Goa for a jumbo adventure', he wrote, "Today it's still a fascinating combination of Portuguese and Indian. The food is fantastic and the Catholic churches have standing room only on Sundays. You'll find locals of mixed heritage with magnificent names like Aloysius or Josi, and the buses have slogans on the front like 'Jesus Saves'. This is a funky place".

He ends his Sunday piece with the words, "So don't delay; go to Goa!"

Several newspapers, including The Times, have quoted official figures that 160,000 British tourists visited Goa in 2007. During 2007, 40 Britons reportedly died in Goa, while the figure this year has so far reached 10.

Why more tourists are breathing their last in Goa

But the reports stress that many of the dead passed away due to natural causes, and there really is nothing unique about Britons dying in Goa rather than in any other holiday spot.

For example, The Times noted that in the year to March 2008, about 381,000 British citizens visited Thailand and 224 of them died.

The Independent framed its coverage from Goa as a 'paradise lost'. It recalled that Goa was for long a backpacker's dream but had now allegedly turned into a 'nightmare'.

A report in the newspaper said, 'When Europeans land here in their charter flights, they discover that the influx of euros, pounds and dollars has polluted the dream that drew them here in the first place'.

'The secret of Goa got out a long time ago. Over the years the hippies have been joined by backpackers, gap-year students, techno addicts and now the two-week package tourists who congregate around the resort of Calangute'.

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