Tourism and the Environment: Case Studies on Goa, India, and the Maldives

The two papers included in this set, presented at an EDI/SAARC Regional Seminar on “Economic Globalization and Environmental Sustainability” in Goa in June 1997, review the impacts of tourism on the environment in the State of Goa, India and in the Republic of the Maldives. Compared with their giant neighboring states, Goa (population 1.2 million) and the Maldives (population 244,000) are small, but blessed among others with local attractions, good beaches and sunshine that draw tourists from near and far.

Tourism plays an important role in the economies of both Goa and the Maldives. For the Maldives, it provides 17 percent of the gross domestic product, over 25 percent of government revenue and around 60 percent of the foreign exchange earnings. For Goa, tourism generates 13.7 percent of the state’s net domestic product, 7 percent of employment and 7 percent of tax revenues. Both states capitalize on their comparative environmental advantages: beach and sunshine. Goa also capitalizes on its unique historical and cultural heritage while the Maldives on its unique archipelagic and coral reef marine environment. Their products and approaches to tourism development are very different: Goa promotes heterogeneous tourism development with upscale and inexpensive charter tourism to international and domestic audiences. The Maldives concentrates on upscale, international tourism. The experiences in tourism of Goa and the Maldives vary in terms of their environmental impacts, social conflicts and institutional responses (Table 1). After reviewing both experiences, there is much that Goa and the Maldives can learn from each other. Other states could also learn from the experiences of these two tourist spots in South Asia.