With Goa & Kerala getting more tourism action, Indian beaches are getting huge numbers of people who have no clue how to handle the sea (not that the sea can be “handled” at all!). Many of them are actually seeing the sea for the first time. Indian beaches in general are not safe. Few of them are protected coves; most face directly out into the ocean and quite a few of them are near a river-mouth.
On a recent visit to Baga in Goa, I realised how badly equipped Indian beaches are on swimmer safety. First of all, there is nobody authoritative enough to give the right guidance on when & where to swim on that beach. Second, there is no organised system to effect a rescue if needed.
What can be done? My thought it that the local tourism businesses need to get into the act. All the beach-based hotels, restaurants and water-sports centres should form a Beach Protection Unit (BPU). Each BPU should employ 3 or 4 lifeguards who are available on a rotation basis. More importantly, each lifeguard should be able to communicate well in most of the major Indian languages. More lives can be protected, if we ensure that people get proper advice before getting into the water.
What is the incentive for these beach businesses to shell out this money? Simple – their beach gets a better reputation and they get more business. To make it easier, the industry can develop a uniform rating system that evaluates each beach for its safety-preparedness and gives a rating. This rating can then be publicised by all destination marketers as well as other constituents of the tourism industry. This way, tourists will know which beaches to go to and which to avoid.
While we are on the subject of beaches, Ashwin Tombat has written a very nice piece on Beach precautions. It was published by HolidayIQ in the recent free guide to Goa’s beaches. You can download it here.