Ever since Vijai Sardesai’s headline-making comments about north Indian tourists (which came laced with unnecessary epithets) last month, there has been a steady fallout of interesting and generally comical repercussions. The chief minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar phoned up his counterpart in Goa to complain, and was skilfully deflected, “Parrikar ji explained that it was a misquote and that the minister was referring to earlier unplanned infrastructure development in Gurugram. Then, the hashtag #BoycottGoa briefly gained some momentum on social media, before it was found to be hyped mainly by Goans themselves, who seemed collectively delighted by the idea that the annual onslaught of domestic tourists might be thinned of north Indians. Earlier this week, the veteran journalist Vir Sanghvi presented his own thoughts on the subject, writing “I tweeted a screenshot of the story about Sardesai’s speech and waited for the response. Twitter is always good when it comes to outrage and Sardesai’s remarks were particularly outrageous…But there was one huge surprise. An astonishingly large number of people tweeted to say that they agreed with Sardesai! Even those who did not approve of his language said that they understood the sentiment behind his outburst! Ever since this controversy blew over – Goa is back to its target of one crore tourists, whether or not we are scum – I have been trying to work out why Sardesai’s remarks struck a chord and what it tells us about attitudes to tourism.” Sanghvi’s resulting “tentative conclusions” are an excellent encapsulation of the attitudes and ideas of India’s Delhi-centric elites when it comes to Goa, which continues to both attract and confound in equal measure. His first finding is “Many people in Goa don’t really like tourists” ascribing this mainly to “huge levels of resentment over the so-called outsiders who have made millions from the tourist boom…So, Goans often feel left out in the boom in tourism.” In addition, says this long-time visitor to luxury resorts in India’s smallest state, “locals all over Asia are like Sardesai in that they seem to prefer white tourists to all other kinds” which doesn’t make sense to Sanghvi because “All over Asia, Chinese and Indian tourists spend much more than tourists from so-called white countries.” All of that is pretty straightforward, even if wrong. Indian tourists spend more than Europeans in Thailand, but according to the most recent industry statistics, foreigners in Goa spend roughly four times as much as Indians. In addition, mere expenditure does not factor in the myriad less tangible impacts of tourism from the rest of India, which has overwhelmed its favourite beach destination with garbage and a host of unpleasant social ills ranging from constant leering at women in swimsuits to persistent demand (and supply) of prostitution. Sanghvi himself wrote, previously, “it was no longer a Goa I recognised…full of pushy north Indians and loud Gujaratis who stayed in ugly, overpriced, modern hotels with disgusting food. There had been so much construction that it looked like any other part of India.” The truth is Sanghvi knows perfectly well why Goans are appalled by the devastation of their once-pristine homeland by hordes of low-budget Indian travellers. He says it himself, “Corrupt politicians and unscrupulous local officials have lined their pockets by approving all kinds of unregulated construction. Lovely towns have been destroyed and entire regions ruined. One by one, all the great and beautiful destinations have had the charm ripped out of them. The real cause of this is corruption. But tourism is the motivating factor.” But instead of building on that, Sanghvi fires off a series of cheap shots. Nothing Sardesai said about north Indians is as egregiously false or offensive as “In the case of Goa, the we-love-white-tourists policy is complicated by the influence of the Russians who many Goans see as having introduced drugs, prostitution etc. to the state...I guess, some Goans would rather welcome white-skinned Russians over middle class North Indians.” Sanghvi’s muddled motivations are betrayed by his plaintive conclusion, “So, all things considered, Goa should be thanking us.” This is the real bottom line, and the actual reason puffed-up feudal Delhi elites usually often wind up so confused in Goa. Here, manners matter. Here, vulgar impositions on everyone else’s good time are not appreciated. You will need to navigate with politesse, because that’s what is expected. If it’s not too difficult to behave that way in Switzerland or Singapore, then why complain here? All things considered, you should be thanking Goa!