Alcohol consumption leads to drowning: Goa tourism official

Panaji, Nov 8 (IANS): Tourists swimming in the seas off Goa drown not because of a dearth of lifeguards, but because they drink alcohol before going to swim, Goa Tourism Development Corporation chairman Dayanand Sopte said on Friday.

Sopte, a BJP MLA who heads the state government corporation which is tasked with improving tourism related infrastructure, also said that deaths due to drowning are not new in Goa.

"You see these incidents happened not only this year. It is continuous. It is not because of lifeguards, mainly because the way they are drinking and going into the sea to swim. Main reason is that," Sopte told reporters here.

Sopte's comments came at a time, when nearly 200 lifeguards working for a private beach management agency have struck work, demanding better working conditions and regularisation of their jobs.

The Opposition has repeatedly targeted the Tourism Ministry for shoddy handling of the crisis, which has arisen due to the strike called by lifeguards, which has rendered the beach management agency, Drishti Marine, short-staffed.

Since October this year, four persons drowned off the seas in Goa, while 175 persons were rescued by lifeguards, according to Drishti Marine. On November 7 alone, 16 persons were rescued while one person drowned off Goa's beaches.

Meanwhile, Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Friday said, that he had urged the contractor to recruit more lifeguards on an urgent basis, or face termination of their beach management contract.

Goa is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country and last year the state attracted nearly eight million tourists, out of which half a million were foreign nationals.




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