Panaji: Not the fall of Thomas Cook or the economic slowdown, for Goa's Ports Minister Michael Lobo the cause of decline in tourist arrivals is the rising cost of onions.
"The tourist arrival in Goa is less this year. Indian tourists ask for onions and chillies (along with meals). Due to rising onion prices, they are being served cabbage and chillies," Lobo said here on Saturday.
Lobo is a BJP legislator who owns a chain of restaurants, lounge bars and hotels. He hails from Calangute Assembly constituency, home to some of the most popular beaches in the state — Calangute, Baga and Candolim.
The onion prices have shot up over the last few weeks in Goa too, touching Rs 170 a kg in the retail markets on Friday.
Earlier this week, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had to intervene and provide subsidy to wholesalers to ensure relatively cheaper onion supply to the government-operated corporations dealing in the rationed vegetable sale.
The Goa tourism industry has complained about dip in quality tourist footfalls and has blamed a combination of factors, including the collapse of UK-based charter tourism operator Thomas Cook earlier this year as well the poor quality of tourism infrastructure in the state.
Goa, one of the leading beach tourism destinations in the country, attracted nearly seven million tourists last year, nearly half a million of which were foreigners.