COVID-19 impact: Goa’s beach shacks face unusual challenges on setting up again; details

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October 21, 2020 7:18 PM

The operations of these shacks are carried out in accordance with the rules of the Goa Tourism Department and the Goa Tourism Shack Policy,

Each shack can also have a maximum of 20 beach umbrellas and beds, and they invite extra fee.

Goa beaches: Longing to laze around in Goa’s popular beach shacks? Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Goa Tourism Department has begun demarcating the beach shacks, an activity it undertakes annually. Beach shacks are a popular attraction in the state, with the majority of Goa’s 7.8 million average tourists a year heading towards the coastal belts, according to a report in IE. However, how the situation will pan out this year is uncertain due to the unusual challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

Beachfront shacks: How many are allowed?

Goa has two types of shacks – temporary and permanent ones. The temporary shacks are allowed to be set up on the beachfront only during the peak season beginning September and ending May. They must be dismantled by June. Temporary shacks are usually 18 m by 8 m in size, and all of them are licensed. The allotment of temporary shacks is done by the draw of lots. The report added that for the North Goa beaches, licences have been granted to 259 temporary shacks, while the beaches in South Goa have 108 licences. One licence is for one shack.

The permanent shacks, on the other hand, are those shacks which are not built on the beach but rather on the land side, at a distance. These shacks are owned or leased out of private land, and they also face the sea. These shacks are licensed for five years, the report stated.

The operations of these shacks are carried out in accordance with the rules of the Goa Tourism Department and the Goa Tourism Shack Policy, the report stated, adding that the latter is updated every three years.

Conditions for obtaining licence for beach shacks in Goa

The allotment of the licenses is done on the basis of experience with 90% of them being allocated to people having experience in serving local catch, chilled beer and having run a shack for at least three years. On the other hand, 10% licences are reserved for new players wanting to join in.

The shack must be set up within a month of the allotment of the licence, and this should be done with the help of eco-friendly material, like wooden poles and bamboo. Once the season ends, the licence owners are required to clean their shack area of everything, and also disconnect the temporary water and electricity supplies.

Moreover, there is a condition that tourists must be given a printed bill of their food and drinks. In case a tourist is overcharged as compared to the print bill, the shack operator’s licence can be suspended.

Each shack can also have a maximum of 20 beach umbrellas and beds, and they invite extra fee.

Enforcement of beach regulations

The authorities often mingle at the beach in plain clothes to keep an eye out for any vagabonds, hawkers, masseuse or peddlers of banned substances. Contraband consumption is illegal. Moreover, drinking in the open on the beach is prohibited and offenders invite a fine for doing so. Tourists can drink either in a shack or in a designated area under an umbrella, the report added.

Goa beach shacks: Licences fee structure

The licence fee depends on the experience category and the beach. However, in the first year for Category A, the licence fee can range between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh, while for Category B in third year, this can vary between Rs 75,000 and Rs 1 lakh. Apart from that, every year for three years, the licence fee increases by 10%.

Category A includes most popular beaches having footfall ranging in lakhs.

Considering the pandemic situation, the owners of the shacks have been able to get a waiver of 50% on this year’s licence fee.

Deadline for shacks to be ready

The shacks would not be ready before November 1, since the erecting of a shack with all the facilities takes 10 to 15 days. Due to the high level of competition, sometimes the deciding factor between two shacks is not the food and the beverage, but the washrooms. The report cited shack owners as saying that in big groups, it is the women that are decision makers between shacks, and for them, clean and hygienic toilets are a priority.

Running shacks amid pandemic

The report stated that the owners hope to earn Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 on an average from a family of four. They are also hoping that an average couple would spend around Rs 1,000.

They are looking at only 40% of all shacks opening at the earliest, as compared to previous years when shacks would start operating within less than a week of obtaining licences. They said that if 100 people walked in only for drinks, the shacks would incur a loss, while if 10 families generating decent food bills would allow owners to break even.

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