Remember a few days ago how a video of a group of tourists went viral because they were charged a ‘photography tax’ for taking selfies in Parra? Well, that escalated quickly! The video garnered a lot of flak from locals and tourists alike on major social media platforms for being a potential blow to tourism in the state. This was further amplified by the fact that the tourists in the video confessed that if things like this were to happen in Goa, they would not consider returning. In less than 24 hours, the Sarpanch of the Parra Panchayat, Delilah Lobo made a statement clarifying that the Panchayat had levied the tax due to the nuisance caused by tourists obstructing traffic to take pictures. While that may seem justified, it has not gone down well forcing the Panchayat to suspend the tax.
An example to not follow
Charging a ‘photography tax’ as a deterrent to prevent tourists from holding up traffic on a busy road such as the Parra church road my have seemed like a good idea, but it sets a dangerous precedent. A number of travel and tourism industry stakeholders were concerned that the example set by the Parra Panchayat might instigate other village Panchayats to do the same – especially in the coastal areas. Tourists come to Goa to enjoy themselves, and part of that enjoyment is taking pictures to remember the good time they had in Goa. If they were to be charged to take photographs, then there’s no doubt that impact on the tourist experience in Goa would be irreparable.
Parra Panchayat suspends the tax
In a statement to the press, Sarpanch of the Parra Panchayat, Delilah Lobo said that the tax was being levied as tourists come through this route in open jeeps, scooters and cars and take out selfies thereby disrupting the free movement of traffic. She said that some of them come with cartons of beer and litter the area. This forced the Panchayat to also levy a Swachhta Tax and Mission Clean Parra Tax to prevent littering.
Boards stating the taxes were displayed near the Holy Cross chapel at Bhati Vaddo road leading to the Parra Church stating an amount of ₹100 for clicking selfie photos and ₹5,000 for wedding photoshoots. Given the outcry, however, in just a matter of a few days, the Panchayat has suspended the tax. “We have suspended the tax for now,” said Lobo. “The idea behind the tax was not to earn revenue for the village panchayat, but to deter tourists and photographers from holding up traffic along the narrow road during their shoots and throwing garbage around the place,” she said.
What are your thoughts on this ‘photography tax’ for tourists? Was scrapping it a good idea? Let us know in the comments below.