Leading Indian travel writer Hugh Gantzer called on Goa authorities to target ‘high spending tourists’ rather than backpackers this week and launched a virulent tirade against Israelis visiting the Indian state after completing military national service.
“I have nothing against Israelis. But in the army, they are trained to hate dark skinned Arabs. And they carry their mindset when they come here,” the 70-something travel guru told Thaindian.com. “It completely puts off other tourists and can create tensions between them and the locals,” he suggested.
Israeli tech producer Nir Shoshani, who visited Goa in 1995 and ‘had a wonderful time there’, was unimpressed.
*I think it’s a poor statement; more than half of Israelis come from Arab countries and they are dark skinned themselves. And others have North African origins, such as from Ethiopia,” he told Skrufff.
“I also carried out some of Israel’s obligatory military service and the Israeli Army has hard rules against brutalizing soldiers. The army does not train people to hate,” said Nir.
Indian DJ Nikhil Chinapa, who as well as being India’s first superstar DJ, co-promotes Goa’s annual Sunburn Festival was equally disappointed by Ganzter’s comments and suggested ‘an attitude adjustment is required.’
“When two nations are constantly at war, some amount of residual mistrust is a given - that's human nature. However his assessment that Israelis carry a dark skin prejudice with them wherever they travel is an extremely racist comment,” he told Skrufff.
Nikhil said Sunburn is principally focused towards nurturing emerging local talent rather than international DJs, through stressed that nationality is never an issue.
“Sunburn is always going to be about an experience, with friends, music, warm sunshine, food and happy memories . . . and not so much about which mega-artist is playing at this year's edition. It's about the vibe . . . and it's always beautiful,” he smiled.
“As for whether we've booked any Israeli DJs, I prefer not to answer that question. I book artists, not nationalities. Yes, we mention where they're from in communication, but that is to convey a sense of global one-ness at the festival and not a sense of divisiveness.”
As well as slating Israelis, Hugh Gantzer blasted ‘hippies and backpackers’, complaining ‘’this class of tourism inevitably is associated with drugs and that never makes for a healthy spectacle.”
“Goa has moved on. Tourism in Goa should move on too. Goa needs to aim for the high spending tourists,” he added, again to the consternation of both Nikhil and Nir Shoshani.
“I think the tourism business in Goa would shrink if not for the hippies and young people from everywhere in the world,” Nir suggested, “There are enough beautiful beaches and resorts in the rest of India for rich people.”
“I don't believe that backpackers should be discouraged in Goa. It would be akin to discouraging the use of cheese in pizza,” Nikhil agreed.
“Yes, Goa does need to aspire to attract tourists across different profiles, but not at the cost of discriminating against any particular category of tourists. If backpackers stopped coming to Goa, it's essence would be dramatically changed - and not for the better. Next, they'll be proposing that all the beach shacks in Goa should be shut and only boutique bars opened instead,” he scoffed.
“However I do believe that anti-drug legislation needs to continue to be strict and stronger penalties must be enforced,” he continued, “But to blame drugs on only the hippies, is a little bit elitist and hypocritical.”
Punch Music, Israel