Second wave of COVID in Europe cripples tourism industry in Goa

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JOSEPH PINTO | NT

Candolim

The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that hit  Europe has crippled the tourism industry in the state as no chartered flight carrying  Europeans  has arrived,  which otherwise heralds the beginning of the tourism season in Goa this time of the year.

Most of the tourism stakeholders operating along  North Goa beach belt have kept their fingers crossed anxiously, as they do not foresee   a  turnaround in the sector so soon.

Travel and Tourism Association of Goa president Nilesh Shah told ‘The Navhind Times’ that honchos  from the hospitality industry have been  trying hard to convince the Centre on resumption of chartered flights.  But the second wave of the pandemic has hit the European countries:  some of them have undergone second lockdown.

“All these factors  portend ill-effects on the tourist season this year. The situation could improve  in January 2021,” he said.

It must be noted here that Ports Minister Michael Lobo has taken a serious view of the slump in the industry and said that he will have a meeting with Union Home Minster Amit Shah to press the latter on resumption of  chartered

flights to the country.

“The foreign tourists not  coming  to Goa will spell doom to the tourism sector,” Lobo reckoned.

Less that 25 per cent of  3870 hotels in Goa have applied to the tourism department for restarting  operations. Some of the  hotels, which  have been given permission, have  not commenced operations, Nilesh Shah  explained, adding that there could be change in the situation when new hotels and guesthouses apply for registration with the department. 

Taxi drivers, watersports operators, people running  small hotels and guesthouses,  restaurateurs  and  shack owners are not keen on  resuming operations as there is no ray of hope of  chartered flights coming to Goa with foreign tourists.

The TTAG urged the government to extend  some kind of relief to  the restaurateurs, who have been badly hit;  they are unsure of  even Indian tourists coming to Goa this year.

President of North Goa Tourist Taxi Association Vasudev Arlekar rued about poor tourist footfall. 

“There is no hope of chartered flights coming to Goa. We need high-end tourists who  spend and not those who come to make business in Goa,” Arlekar said. 

Former MLA  Agnelo Fernandes, who  is  a hotelier from Candolim, said that his  two hotels have been running with less than 50 per cent staff as fewer customers are coming to  the establishments.  

This has been the case because star hotels have reduced their room tariffs  drastically, eating into the business of small  hotels doting  the beach belt.

The poor tourist footfall has also severely affected   watersports along the beaches.

A watersports operator  from Candolim Seby D’Souza complained that business has been terribly low and only a few watersports operators have taken risk  in resuming their operations.

“Business has been  very poor… we get a few customers that   too only during the weekends,” D’Souza  said.