Fish import ban will be an irritant to Goa’s travel & tourism: Trade body

Panaji: The six-month ban on import of fish, due to the scare involving use of formalin to preserve fish being sold in Goa, is a “irritant” to the travel and tourism industry in Goa, said Savio Messias, head of the state’s leading travel and tourism body, on Tuesday.

The president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), a leading body of stakeholders from both industries, also said that tourists not being able to eat fish in Goa due to the ban was as absurd as tourists travelling to Russia and not being able to drink vodka, or those travelling to Mexico unable to savour tequila.

“The ban is going to wreck sections of the tourism industry like restaurants. It is an irritant to the industry. Tourists who come to Goa want to enjoy Goan food, which largely comprises fish,” Messias said.

From Tuesday, the Goa government has banned import of fish from neighbouring states due to an ongoing controversy surrounding use of formalin, a carcinogenic chemical used to preserve cadavers, to preserve fish imported in the state.

As a result of the ban, fish markets in Goa wore a desolate look and prices of locally caught fish have soared over 100 per cent on the first day of the ban itself.

Messias said the TTAG had asked its members for suggestions to work around the ban and promised to lobby with lawmakers to bring in relaxations to the six-month ban, which would allow some inflow of fish into Goa. The state currently consumes nearly 50 ton of imported fish every day.

Goa is one of the top tourism destinations in the country and attracts nearly eight million tourists out of which half a million are foreigners.