Case Study: Goa

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Case Study: Goa

This is a good Case Study to use if you have to discuss the negative effects of tourism. You can also use it as an example in "Reasons for growth".


Fact file

Situated on the west coast of India, approximately 400 kilometres south of Bombay. Goa's coastal strip is approximately 100 kilometres long boasting idyllic sandy beaches and blue crystal seas.

Traditional industries included fishing, rice growing and toddy tapping - where an alcoholic drink is fermented from the sap of the coconut palm.

Literacy rate 77% - high for India.

Number of tourist visitors now exceeds 1 million annually - about 20% are arrivals from overseas.

Tourist season is from October through to May when average temperatures range from 31-34 degrees Celsius. Heavy rain prevents tourism from June to September.


Tourism has grown dramatically in the last four decades.

Until 1986 tourism was limited to Indian tourists, backpackers and the very wealthy. There were relatively few hotels and local people owned these. Backpackers could rent rooms from local families so increasing their cultural experience and injecting money into the local economy. Tourism is largely limited to the North of Goa. Tourists would total less than half a million with fewer than 30 000 from overseas.

The consequences for the environment, culture and economy were minimal and often positive.

1986 saw the arrival of the first package holidays from Europe. A new demand for three and four star hotels with pools and gardens starts to put pressure on the environment. Tourism begins to spread south and numbers soon exceed 1million with more than 200 000 from overseas. Local people and action groups are starting to become concerned about the effects of tourism on the economy, environment and culture. In 1987 locals express their concerns when they great tourists at the airport with cow dung and posters telling them to go home.

Tourism in Goa has continued to grow despite the protests of locals and action groups. Foreign tourists are being encouraged as they spend more than Indian tourists. Multinational companies increasing the likelihood of leakage are building more and more hotels. Numbers of foreign tourists are expected to rise to 350 000. There are plans to build new communication links including airports and railway stations which will open up more regions of Goa pushing tourism further north and south.

Consequences of tourism in Goa


Largely negative although government ministers say that tourism has greatly improved the economy without the environmental consequences of traditional heavy industry.


There is considerable leakage of money out of the Goan economy. Foreign companies or nationals from outside Goa own the majority of large hotels. As a consequence the profits and a large percentage of the incomes will find their way out of the local economy. In addition, a growing number of hotels now offer all-inclusive deals. Whilst attractive for the customer, these increase the amount of leakage as there is no incentive for the tourists to purchase food and drink from local businesses.

Decline of traditional industry:

Local industries have in many situations been forced into decline. Toddy tapping is struggling as deforestation makes way for hotels and pool. Valuable farm- land is also lost and in some instances locals claim they have been forced from the land.

Holiday complexes

Fishing has been badly hit by trawlers but also the tradition of drying fish on the beach has been banned because the smell upsets tourists. In many areas locals are now denied access to their traditional fishing or tapping grounds by large hotel complexes. This is illegal but still appears to be occurring.

Land prices:

These have rocketed in recent years as speculators continue to force them up. This often prices locals and their businesses out of the market so increasing the number of businesses in foreign ownership.

Anything positive?:

Hotel management courses set up by the local government are giving more of the local unemployed the skills to fill higher paid jobs in the industry.

Many areas are feeling the effect of the multiplier stimulated by the money that finds its way into the economy. Tourism has had a positive effect on many businesses including... bars and restaurants, boutiques, construction, cinemas, bakeries - the key issue is whether the growth in the economy is proportional to the growth in tourism.


Huge pressures are placed on the environment by the pressures of tourism. Hotels with pools and gardens replace farmland and mangrove swamps. Water tables are depleted. Again there is a counter argument that if you want to develop the area tourism is still better than heavy industry. In summary tourism in Goa is in grave danger of destroying the very thing it is trying to sell.

Water tables:

The water tables are being depleted so hotels can fill their pools, water their gardens and provide running water for their guests. Meanwhile locals have access to water for just two hours a day. One primary school says it no longer has drinking water for the children.

Coastal ecosystem:

Sand dunes and mangrove swamps are being destroyed so hotels can be built or better access to the beaches can be provided. These dunes and swamps provide a natural flood defence for villagers.

Refuse disposal:

The growth in tourism is rapidly outstripping the essential infrastructure. In many areas sewage treatment is inadequate, refuse disposal ineffectively regulated. As a consequence water supplies have been polluted by dumped refuse and the marine ecosystem is in danger of being irreparably damaged.

Marine ecosystem

Culture / society:

It is here that the locals are most aggrieved. Their protests have been very visual - such as with the cow dung affair but have also become violent.

Traditional values and cultures:

Traditional values are being lost as local youths are influenced by the influx of Western ways. Festivals are seen as something for the tourists and so loose their significance. Goa has also achieved an un-enviable reputation in India as many see it as a haven for drugs, prostitution and nudity.

Drugs and prostitution:

The worst side effects of tourism are being felt in Goa. The 'hippies' of the early sixties started the trend for drugs in Goa where the plentiful supply was to their liking. Prostitution is also taking place in some resorts at its worst this can involve underage children. Pressure groups are forcing the Government to act to clamp down on prostitution and drugs. It is hoped this will also prevent the further spread of AIDS.


Tourists are also starting to have bad experiences in many areas of Goa. There have been numerous incidents where tourists have been threatened, sexually abused, beaten up, robbed. It seems that tourism is encouraging the criminal element amongst the indigenous population also.