Hit hard by COVID, lockdown, Goa's tourism industry hopes for revival

By PTI
PANAJI: Goa’s tourism sector, which has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, is staring at a challenging task of revival of the industry considering the rise in the number of infection cases of late.

The industry stakeholders feel that due to the spike in infection cases, negative sentiments have set in among the travellers.

They said that tourism activities in the state, which is known for its beaches, can resume by November this year or even early, with all due precautionary measures.

The Goa government has extended till May 31 the coronavirus-induced curfew in place in the state since May 9.

President of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), Nilesh Shah, said, “Restarting tourism is a challenging task due to the overall negative sentiments connected with the state due to rise in COVID-19 cases.”

After the lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic, there were positive sentiments about Goa and people wanted to come to the coastal state as it was considered to be “very safe”, he said.

Shah said that if the government plans to relax the restrictions from June 1 onwards, it will have to do so after adopting certain measures.

The TTAG has recommended four different strategies to ensure that travellers entering the state do not spread the virus.

“Travellers should be allowed to enter Goa only with COVID-19 negative certificate or vaccination certificate.

“If they don’t have any of this, then the government should set up testing facilities at the borders or at railway stations, bus terminals and airports, where people should be provided this facility at affordable prices. The testing charges should not exceed Rs 500,” Shah said.

The state government can privatise the service, he added.

Former TTAG chairman and president-elect of Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), Ralph De Souza, said that the tourism industry can start on a cautious note from November onwards.

“Tourism industry is the first to go and the last to resume in COVID-19 situation,” he said.

He said that the tourism industry was paralysed after the first wave, but it opened up for a few months when domestic tourists started coming in before it was again hit by the second wave.

Goa’s coronavirus caseload went up by 1,487 to reach 1,50,897 on Wednesday, while its death toll rose to 2,499 as 39 patients succumbed to the infection during the day.