By Sanjay Borkar
Panaji, Aug 7 (IANS): With Delhi and neighbouring Maharashtra reducing liquor rates, Goa's liquor traders are left worried that they may further lose business from tourists visiting the sunshine state, who no longer purchase liquor from the state's liquor vends like before.
The situation is such that the tourists visiting Goa are mocking retailers for higher price of liquor.
As per government statistics, in 2019, about 71,27,000 domestic tourists visited Goa, of which 9,31,000 were foreign tourists. But this number dropped in 2020 and 2021 as the Covid pandemic struck the coastal state. But now the local tourism industry is hopeful that tourist footfall will increase in the upcoming tourism season.
Dattaprasad Naik, President of Goa Liquor Traders Association, told IANS that the liquor industry in the state is suffering losses for the past eight months.
"Since the past eight months, we have lost customers from the North. It's a major setback for us. Tourists are not procuring liquor from us in the way they did before," he said.
"Some are even mocking us by saying that the liquor prices in Goa are double as compared to Delhi," Naik said.
The liquor price in Delhi came down as compared to the coastal state in recent times primarily due to the reduction in registration fees for different brands. Also the duty on liquor in Delhi is lesser that what it is in Goa.
According to Naik, the association has requested the Goa government to streamline the excise duty slab.
"In reality, the Delhi model will not work in Goa," he said.
Naik also said that duty slabs in Goa are not proper and also that the ‘label registration' fee should be streamlined.
"There should be ease of doing business in our trade. It takes around 15 days to get an import permit. They delay issuing import permits, which should not happen," Naik said.
Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai had in the recently concluded Assembly session raised the issue of liquor prices and said that liquor rates in the state are higher than other places, especially Delhi.
He said the situation is such that people are bringing liquor to Goa from their own states, especially those visiting the coastal state for wedding events.
"Goa is known as a wedding destination, but people now bring liquor from other states," Sardesai had said.
"The government may be proud about the excise collections, but the reality is liquor sales have gone down. The prices in Delhi and Maharashtra have gone down," he had said.
Sameer Naik, a retailer, told IANS that ever since liquor prices went down in Delhi and Maharashtra, sales have plummeted in Goa.
"Why would they purchase from us? Every passing day the rates are increasing here. In the near future, we will have to depend on local customers only," Sameer Naik said.
Sources said that many people used to smuggle liquor from Goa to the North, which has stopped now.
An excise officer, on condition of anonymity, said that though the government has collected sizeable revenue from liquor trade, the price difference will impact tourism and it will become evident from the coming tourism season.
"There are many domestic tourists who visit Goa mainly for cheap liquor. Why would they come now if the prices are higher here," he asked.