Shack Owners Welfare Society (SOWS)
(An affiliate of Centre for Responsible Tourism, Caritas-Goa and the Council for Social Justice and Peace)
Institute Piedade, Opposite Captain of Ports, Panjim
Tel: 9823018901, E-Mail: email@example.com
Mr Manohar Parrikar
The Chief Minister,
Government of Goa
06 September 2012
Subject: Shack Policy for tourist season 2012-2013
I write to you on behalf of the Shack Owners Welfare Society.
Our society has met to review the impending actions of the Government vis-à-vis shack policy. We come to know some of the plans from the media and to avoid misunderstanding we met with the Director of Tourism who obliged us with a sympathetic hearing. We were informed by him that the policy is soon to be finalized and that the papers will reach the office of Chief Minister for a relevant announcement.
We bring to you some concerns and anxieties and hope that you will give our appeals for sensitive handling of our rightful claims. We wish to give our direct inputs to the making of the policy because we have faced the problems of being responsible shack owners serving the tourists for over 30 years. Hence, we understand the problems and needs and will be able to assist the government policy making with our understanding of the situation.
Some urgent issues:
- Fee structures: We understand that the shack fee will now be enhanced from Rs 30,000- to Rs 50,000- for A-stretch shacks and from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000- in the B-stretch shacks. This is a hike that is too steep for us to manage and we urge you to kindly maintain the status quo. After all, our employment runs only for the period of the season and, in effect, the heavy earning happens for about 4 months. These earnings must then last us for the entire year. This is a question of livelihood and family support and we hope you will give it your best understanding.
- Security deposit: This is also an investment we are being asked to make at the beginning of the season at a very soaring cost. Till now, we deposited Rs 5000- and this year it is being suggested that it will be Rs 50,000-. We ask you to reconsider this decision because many of us will have to resort to borrowing in order to find this initial cost – which is in addition to other set-up costs.
- Size of shack: We are now told that shacks will be down-sized in space and this will also damage our business prospects. A small shack will limit customers and reduce profits. Tourists spend huge proportions of their time in shacks- for the quality food, for the taste of Goa, and for relaxing in front of the ocean. Therefore, we need the space in which we can accommodate them in relative comfort. We are suggesting a space of 20X10 instead of the 15 X 8 space now under consideration.
- Beach beds: We request that the allocation be maintained at 15 pairs for each shack. That prevents over crowding inside the shack and allows tourists to enjoy their presence in the coast. It also serves as an additional source of income for us.
- Licensing framework: The current shack policy stipulates that no shack owner or his/her family shall be employed anywhere. This is a condition that is unjust because we, first of all, must face the prospect of not receiving a policy because of the lottery system. Our lives are depending on mere luck- a lottery.
We ask that this policy be revised and that family members of shack owners are permitted to work just as in any other sector of society. In fact, in the context of rising costs, most people have two bread winners in their families.
The condition must be that the applicant for a shack license must be the only person who is otherwise unemployed.
- Long term licensing: We have repeatedly been requesting that shack licenses be long term in scope. The ideal situation is for 10 years which means that shack owners are able to invest in sustainable and environmentally friendly construction materials. This is also linked to the notion that the only people who will run shacks are the original inhabitants of the coastal areas who were displaced by tourism and now serve that sector.
- Uniformity of shack construction: We prefer to retain the current pattern of shack owners designing their own shacks. The unique creativity of each shack owner gives the coast much variety and splendour. If we have all shacks looking the same, it would be boring. After all, the goal is to keep tourists interested in revisiting Goa year after year and bringing in new tourists.
- Responsible shack management: We are also pursuing with utmost seriousness the issue of child protection (sexual and labour), opposing sex tourism including massage parlours, and doing waste management. In all the above named matters, we are undergoing self-training.
Our intent is to be responsible shack owners and service providers. We are equipping ourselves for this purpose. We, therefore, urge you to grant us a face-to-face meeting at which we can explain our policy and our expectations before you announce the policy. We are available to you at anytime that suits you.
Cc: To all MLAs of the Goa coastal belt