In a video that is currently going viral on Facebook and WhatsApp, a group of tourists in Goa were allegedly fined a ‘photography tax’ for taking photographs in Parra. The video which seems to have been recorded by a concerned citizen and later shared by multiple people on Facebook and WhatsApp shows a group of four tourists, standing on the Parra church road, recanting their experience of how they were charged this photography tax by the local panchayat for taking pictures on the idyllic road.
“We were just taking photographs”
In the video, the videographer draws attention to the four tourists and talks about the fact that they are holidaying in Goa. He then reveals that while they were taking photographs on the very popular Parra church road, the tourists were stopped and asked to pay a photography tax. The videographer mentions that though the tourists were charged ₹100, the day before, others were charged as much as ₹500. The tourists then, in their own words, recount how this group of supposed panchayat members told them that the ‘tax’ for a group photograph was actually ₹200, but they were only charging them ₹100. What’s interesting to note, is that the tourists were also given what looks like a stamped receipt.
Is this legal?
The main question here is, is this legal? There is no rule or regulation that states that a panchayat or local governing body can charge tourists or locals for taking photographs for personal consumption. The rules will, of course, be different in the case of professional photography or videography shoots for movies or documentaries, but in this case where tourists are merely taking photographs, who has authorised the payment of a photography tax?
UPDATE (06.11.19): After the video went viral, Parra sarpanch Delilah Lobo clarified that the Panchayat has indeed levied the tax due to the nuisance caused by tourists obstructing traffic to take pictures. In a statement to the press, she said that the tax is being levied as tourists come through this route in open jeeps, scooters and cars and take out selfies thereby disrupting the free movement of traffic. She said that some of them come with cartons of beer and litter the area. She said some tourists’ throw beer bottles into a pond were locals go for Ganesh immersion. This has forced the Panchayat to also levy a Swachhta Tax and Mission Clean Parra Tax to prevent littering. Boards stating the taxes have been displayed near the Holy Cross chapel at Bhati Vaddo road leading to the Parra Church. As of now, an amount of ₹100 for clicking selfie photos and ₹5,000 for wedding photoshoots is being charged. A receipt is also issued by the panchayat.
This incident follows another viral post wherein foreigners in Anjuna visiting the flea market have been stopped by police at a counter and asked to verify their passports. With no clear rules and regulations, tourists were left stumped, especially since visitors to the flea market are not likely to carry their passports with them. With arbitrary practices like these carried out by government officials, it is clear that tourism, both domestic and foreign, is likely to be impacted in a negative manner.
What are your thoughts on this ‘photography tax’ for tourists? Do you think it legitimate? Let us know in the comments below.