The tourist capital of the country has been reeling under severe losses due to the current coronavirus pandemic. Goa, went into a complete lockdown late March, along with the rest of the country in view of the pandemic to restrict the spread of the infectious Covid-19 virus in the country.
Post the lockdown, domestic tourism has been opened up in the state since early July. However, international arrivals of tourists continue to be restricted due to the pandemic situation across the world. Moreover, many other countries continue to have travel restrictions, which in turn have hampered the resumption of international flights.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) – an umbrella body of tourism stakeholders in the state – has appealed to the Centre to announce the policies it intends to put in place for the arrival of foreign charters in the country.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the tourism sector badly, as many businesses have faced severe loses – both due to early closure of this year’s tourism season – and also the pandemic at large.
TTAG in its statement has said that the early announcement of these policies for foreign arrivals will provide a better roadmap for tourism revival in the state, which they believe that there are hopes for by later this year, provided the right decisions are taken now.
TTAG President Nilesh Shah said, “We need the government to announce its policy on charter flights that it will allow charters to fly in from countries like Russia and UK so that we can at least begin marketing.”
He added that without these policies announced, stakeholders cannot handle any inquiries, as nothing has been mentioned by the government. Charter flight bookings and queries would usually begin by August. “We cannot wait until the last minute,” Shah said.
Despite domestic tourism re-opening, the same hasn’t really picked up yet, as many have chosen private villas and their holiday homes as options. Goa’s tourist season normally begins from November, and goes all through the new year, till March-April. This time, however, it is uncertain whether the same will follow.
Most operators are hopeful that the government will come about and release these policies probably within two-three weeks. This in turn they say, will help the tourism industry restart by December this year.
Moreover, only those who fulfill for a ‘Covid-19 passport’, i.e. following all health and safety protocols, including the covid-19 test, or by then maybe vaccination, should be allowed to travel via charters, they said.
Russia, which recently announced its successful launch of a Covid-19 vaccine, makes up for the majority of the tourists that visit the state through these charter flights.
TTAG also said that the direct and indirect economic impact of the tourism industry in India is estimated at 10% of the GDP and 40% in Goa, including multiplier effects.