08 Jun 2021  |   03:54am IST

Back to the same old question: Will Goa see tourists again?

Life has come a full circle in Goa. Because, after all it’s about life. With the dreaded four weeks of May behind us, thoughts are turning to livelihoods: But this time, Goans have wisened up to the fact that life is fundamental to livelihood and thus safety is the biggest business investment
Back to the same old question: Will Goa see tourists again?

Ajit John

It’s not been a good year to be part of the hospitality industry. The virus has ensured that. Now the number of cases in Goa seems to be reducing and there perhaps seems to be a possibility of the state government perhaps contemplating an easing up of the lockdown later in the month. This of course will depend on the number of cases showing a continuous reduction. The monsoon is almost here, which is an interesting time in the industry. Goa has been marketed as a destination for all seasons. With cases showing a continuous reduction will there be visitors to Goa or will it be a continuation of the very poor spell experienced by the industry this year. 

Orelio Riberio GM Serene Waters Resort Ribandar said he expected business during the monsoons. He said “We get birdwatchers, trekkers, basically people who love nature, those who go on nature walks. We get our clients from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune. I am keeping my hopes alive because the numbers of cases are reducing. I hope this trend persists and everyone follows the protocols. I need to keep my hope up. I am hoping for the best.” 

Similar sentiments were expressed by Serena Alamshaa of The Postcard Velha, a boutique hotel which is located in North, South and Old Goa. She said “We have quite a few guests now that covid cases down from other cities. This is a boutique hotel with 24 rooms in total in three properties. It has been very decent business and we have been getting good business from Mumbai. Even last year was very good. I expect it to be the same this year and that should extend through the monsoons.” That sounded encouraging but what about the rest. 

Anderson Clemente, the man behind Casa DCM and Esmeralda, a property in Bambolim, was not very positive. He said the number of cases were still very high. Unlike a few months earlier RTPCR was now mandatory which he said was a very good move but could turn away people from visiting the state at the spur of the moment. He felt the lockdown would be extended and perhaps one could only look at the year end when the situation would improve. This he said would again depend on the vaccinations. Anderson said he did not expect anything to improve in the next couple of months. The monsoon, he said, would be a dull damp affair for the hospitality industry.

Aloo Gomes Pereira COO Trail Blazer Tours India Pvt Ltd said he did not expect any business from the international market during the monsoons. He however said that if anything positive would come it would be from the domestic market. He however felt that with the general state of affairs being what it was, business would be very lukewarm. 

Nilesh Shah, President TTAG had much to say about the general state of affairs. Nilesh said “The virus has caused an effect all over the country. It will take a while before the situation improves all over the country. Last year during the monsoons, the mood was much more positive. People were very keen to come to Goa and you could see it in the crowds on the beach. Now the situation is different. Vaccinations are on. You cannot enter the state without the papers confirming you have been vaccinated. I believe there should be a testing facility at the border. The system has to be in place for checking, this will help create positivity around the state. Protocols have to be followed; there cannot be any negotiation on that count”. Speaking about possible business during the monsoons he said he would not be able to say anything. He said if the cases kept reducing and vaccinations continued then he could expect tourists to visit Goa. This he said would be great for the small hotels many of whom were shut for a year. Strict implementation of the rules he said would be the only way forward or the industry to move ahead. 

Savio Messais who has been in the business for a very long time was blunt when he said the industry was now in no great hurry to open. He said “We have suffered for a long time and everyone is willing to sacrifice for a few more months. I think September or October will be the right time to start”. He however felt it would be very important for the government to initiate a communication campaign across the important markets to convince them that the country was safe to visit again. He said “The images of bodies floating in the river were terrible. No one will be willing to visit us. We have to have our systems in place and ensure testing is taking place. The state government does not have a PR agency in place to ensure information reaches the international market. They need to hire an agency. Our industry has taken a beating and the government needs to help us now by initiating these steps.” Till then he said it was better to be shut. 

Perhaps it would make sense to err on the side of safety but then bills have to be paid which can be a source of even greater pressure. One only hopes the situation improves.