While the Goa government has allowed hotels to function, restaurants and other tourism-related activities have been shut due to the curfew, which has been in place in the state since May 9, when COVID-19 cases started rising.
Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Tuesday said tourism activities should resume only after the entire population of the coastal state is completely vaccinated against COVID-19. This will ensure the safety of the residents as well as the Goa tourists.
Ajgoankar said that the industry will have to earn back its past glory, as it has suffered losses due to the pandemic.
In the case of international travelers, Ajgaonkar said the state will have to depend on the Centre’s decision for the resumption of chartered flights. “My personal opinion is that once the vaccination double dose is completed, we should start inviting tourists who have taken both vaccines. We should keep Goa as well as tourists safe,” Ajgaonkar said. He, however, said that his Ministry would follow whatever decision is taken by the government vis a vis resumption of tourism activity in the state.
Speaking to, the minister said only tourists who are “fully vaccinated” should be allowed to enter the state. “We can’t keep Goa’s tourism industry shut forever, as it is an important backbone of our state’s economy,” Ajgaonkar said.
Meanwhile, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) is pinning its hope on the early resumption of tourism activities to minimize its losses.
Few residencies (hotels) run by the corporation have been shut amid the pandemic, while the staff has been redeployed to other assignments, the official said. ”At least during the last lockdown, the state government had taken over some of our residencies to set up quarantine centers. But this time, there has been no occupancy,” Desai said.
The corporation has been burdened with financial losses, as it has to pay salaries of 400-odd staff, apart from liabilities such as pensions for former employees, he said. The exact quantum of losses incurred in the last fiscal will be quantified in the next couple of months, but the losses are certainly huge, the official added.
Goa was one of the last states in the western Indian belt to make testing at borders mandatory for inbound tourists, after the Bombay High Court in Goa, directed the state authorities to take that step in wake of a steep hike in Covid cases.