COVID-19 impact: Goa’s tourism industry struggles despite rising footfalls

By: |
November 27, 2020 10:54 AM

Even as the number of tourists visiting Goa is witnessing a steady rise of late, especially since Diwali, the tourism industry of the state that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, has failed to benefit much out of it owing to several factors, its stakeholders say.

Due to the pandemic, most tourists visiting Goa from the neighbouring states prefer to spend only a day and return home by evening instead of staying at hotels, they said.

Even as the number of tourists visiting Goa is witnessing a steady rise of late, especially since Diwali, the tourism industry of the state that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, has failed to benefit much out of it owing to several factors, its stakeholders say.

Due to the pandemic, most tourists visiting Goa from the neighbouring states prefer to spend only a day and return home by evening instead of staying at hotels, they said.

Besides, the tourists prefer to carry home-cooked food instead of eating out in restaurants as the coronavirus fear still looms large, they said.

Several beaches in the state, including Calangute, Candolim, Baga in North Goa district and Colva and Palolem in South Goa are popular among tourists. They have been witnessing a huge influx of tourists since Diwali vacations.

However, the industry stakeholders say that the rise in footfalls has not benefited the sector so far, even as the months of November and December are normally considered the peak season of Goa’s tourism.

“The tourists visiting Goa come in their own vehicles and carry home-cooked food to avoid eating out. They buy liquor from wholesale wine stores. Due to these factors, the beach shacks are still wearing a deserted look,” president of Traditional Shack Owners’ Association, Manuel Cardoso, said. Shacks are temporary structures, which serve as restaurants and bars with sunbeds on the sand. They are removed during monsoon, only to be set up again during the tourist season.

He said that many members affiliated to his association are yet to set up shacks as they are waiting to gauge the response of tourists.

“Majority of the tables at the shacks that are operating now are empty. Hardly a few people are found entering the shacks for meal or drink,” he said.

Cardoso said that the rush of tourists is being witnessed only at the prime beaches. “But if you walk a little away from the main areas, other beach belts are mostly deserted,” he said.

Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Nilesh Shah said, “Hotels are reporting low occupancy despite November being a peak tourist season for Goa’s tourism industry, which is considered the backbone of its economy.”

Shack owner Julio Fernandes from Calangute claimed that most of the tourists arriving here from the neighbouring states, who return home by evening.

“The tourists don’t stay back. They don’t stay in shotel, which is why the hotel occupancy is poor even now,” he said.

TTAG feels that the guidelines issued by the government in neighbouring Maharashtra, making it mandatory for the people from Goa to carry COVID-19 negative certificates while entering that state, will further impact Goa’s tourism prospects.

Shah said that such guidelines would hit Goa in a big way even as the state expects a revival of tourism industry next month.

The Maharashtra government on Monday made it mandatory for those seeking to enter the state from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa to carry RT-PCR negative reports, in a bid to stem any further spike in COVID-19 cases following a post-Diwali surge.

However, Goa’s Tourism Director Menino D’Souza said there will be no direct impact of Maharashtra’s guidelines.

“But it may leave some indirect impact on Goa’s tourism business,” he said.

He said that the tourism industry, hit hard by COVID-19, is slowly getting back on track.

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