Concern over increase in deaths due to drowning

Special Correspondent

Notices warning tourists may be put up

Six died off Calangute beach last weekStrike by lifeguards is posing problems to tourism industry

PANAJI: The State Tourism Department may make it mandatory for the tourism and travel industry in the State to display notices and billboards prominently in their establishments and vehicles prohibiting tourists from venturing into the sea during the monsoon.

An increase in the number of deaths due to drowning in recent weeks has forced the Government and the tourism industry to take preventive steps. The deaths of six software engineers from three IT companies from different parts of the country at Calangute beach last weekend shocked many.

While the beaches are unsafe during the monsoon, the ongoing strike by lifeguards has aggravated the problem. Deputy Chief Minister and Tourism Minister Wilfred de Souza held a meeting with representatives of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), a body representing hotels and travel agents, on Thursday to impress upon them the need to take up an awareness drive about the dangers of unsupervised swimming in general and prohibiting swimming in the sea during the monsoon. Mr. de Souza said, "If need be, the Government will have to make it mandatory for them to put up such notices and billboards."

He said that in view of the ongoing strike by lifeguards, special staff of Tourism Department had been deployed.

Mr. de Souza acknowledged that consumption of liquor was one of the important reasons for people drowning. "Many of the groups who come in buses and other vehicles are inebriated, and many a time they do not heed instructions."

Mr. de Souza said he would take immediate steps to redress the grievances of the lifeguards on strike. Most of the lifeguards are employed on contract.

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