Panaji: Controversies in the recent past like rape of foreigners and racist comments against Nigerian nationals have no bearing on the number of tourists coming to Goa, Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said on Thursday.
The minister also said the state government would write to the central authorities to expedite formation of a law facilitating quick deportation of foreigners involved in crime.
“Such statements keep coming. Nigerian issue, Scarlett (Keeling) murder case… Newspapers used to say that it would impact tourism. If one goes by history, tourism has in fact increased,” Parulekar told reporters after releasing the annual report of the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights at the State secretariat.
In 2008, British teenager Scarlett Keeling was sexually assaulted by two beach shack workers and left on a Goa beach to die.
Parulekar’s comment comes on the heels of a string of comments by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, ex-Home Minister Ravi Naik and the Tourism Minister himself against Nigerians living in Goa.
While Parsekar last month said that Goans were “annoyed” with the attitude and lifestyle of Nigerians, Naik had earlier this week demanded a ban on Nigerians referring to them as “Negroes”. Parulekar had earlier said that Nigerian nationals involved themselves in petty crimes to extend their stay in Goa to sell drugs. All the comments were criticized by the opposition as well as the media, which termed them racist.
Parulekar on Thursday however said that while discrimination in the name of skin colour was wrong, he also said that Nigerians and other foreigners who were involved in illegalities needed to be deported out of the country as soon as possible.
“We will write again to (the central government) to form a law for quick deportation. I am not saying this in context of those who are dark-skinned or Nigerians alone. Whichever foreigner is involved in drugs, prostitution or in illegal business, we should be able to deport them quickly,” Parulekar said.
“We should not discriminate against people on the basis of skin colour, what if the person is black…” Parulekar said.
Goa attracts nearly four million tourists every year, half a million of who are foreigners. Parulekar also said that over the last four years, inbound tourism to the state grew from 3 per cent to 30.3 per cent.