JOSEPH PINTO | NT
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.