Blow by blow reportage of the Scarlett Keeling trial is opening up old wounds which have scarred Goa's image in Britain's tourist circuit, a top tourism industry spokesperson has said.
Speaking to IANS Tuesday Ralph de Souza, a senior member of the Tourism and Trade Association of Goa (TTAG) said that the constant reportage of the trial in British newspapers and the television media had reduced the trial to a 'soap opera'.
“Even adjournments are reported in the media there,” de Souza, who represents the TTAG, a respected trade body in the state representing a large section of the tourism industry stakeholders, said.
“Sure it is true. It is a fact that the incident (the Scarlett Keeling tragedy) happened. But the way it is being reported it appears as if only Scarlett came, was raped and died. No one talks about the half million other foreign tourists who come to Goa every year and go back safely,” said de Souza, who runs several hospitality establishments himself.
De Souza also compared the constant bombardment of the Scarlett Keeling trial in the British media to Goebellian propaganda.
“If one keeps saying the same thing again and again like in this (Scarlett Keeling trial reportage) way, then people will continue to think that Goa is not a safe place to visit,” de Souza said.
De Souza, who has been interacting with the international media, as part of the initiative by the tourism industry to project Goa as a safe and thriving tourism destination, said that safety was top priority on the minds of the international tourists who flock to Goa annually.
Holidayers from Britain top the number of foreign tourists who visit Goa annually from October to March at 50,000, closely followed by Russian nationals.
Goa's image as a tourism destination has taken a battering right after the adverse publicity it attracted in the aftermath of the Scarlett Keeling death at Anjuna beach on February 18, 2008.
Keeling, a 15-year-old girl from Devon holidaying with her mother Fiona Mackeown at Anjuna, was allegedly sexually assaulted and left to die by beach shack workers Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvolho.
Both are being tried by the Goa Children's Court (GCC) in Panaji for their alleged crime.
While the Goa police initially tried to cover up the gory incident by dismissing the incident as a simple case of drowning, a sustained campaign for justice by Scarlett's mother Fiona forced the police to re-investigate the crime.
The case was finally handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation after Fiona alleged that the local police and politicians were involved in the narcotics mafia, which she claimed was responsible for her daughter's death.
Following the Scarlett case, several Russian women were also assaulted, some sexually, which brought the issue of the safety of women tourists in Goa under the international spotlight.