19 May 2020  |   04:13am IST

Hotels in Goa check out of taking the risk of opening up

Numbers are mounting in Goa as cases are detected at the border and at railway stations Where does this leave the hospitality industry which has been trying to exert pressure to start operations?
Hotels in Goa check out of taking the risk of opening up

Ajit John;

The start of last week is like from a different age. It all changed towards the fag end of last week. Now the virus is back and how. The state has now 36 cases which were all detected in the last seventy-two hours. All the cases are of people who travelled into the state either by car or by train. The state was COVID 19 free for over forty days and all the precautions were being followed. Everything was ok, the shops were gradually being opened but then the authorities decided to ease up on the lockdown and commenced rail services. Despite fears being expressed, it all went ahead. 

The tourism industry had earlier expressed its interest in opening up hotels in a COVID 19 free Goa. One of the largest employers and income generators in the state, its closure had affected tens of thousands of people. What now? Does it make sense to hanker for the resumption of business?

This question put forward to several industry professionals brought forth interesting responses. Savio Messias, President TTAG was categorical when he said they were not in a hurry to open up. He said “There is no point in opening up now because the rest of the country is in lockdown and who will come here then. We may have a trickle of tourists coming and it will not mean anything to us. We need the country to be clear of this virus then that will mean people will be able to move around freely and go for holidays. I believe we should open up only after the monsoons. Even then we have to wait and watch. We cannot be in a hurry”. 

Messias, however, felt Goa was doing pretty well and the cases that were now detected were of people from outside. The system he said was working and it had helped detect thee cases. He felt it was important to be strict and be patient. Goa, he felt would become the favourite destination like it was earlier.

Tourism Minister maintaining Social Distancing from the industry: TTAG President

 He, however, bemoaned the behaviour of the tourism minister who he felt was practising social distancing from the industry. Savio said, “We had talked to the CM earlier and but the tourism minister is not to be seen”.     

Jacob John GM of Whispering Palms said they were shut and were contemplating the idea of temporarily opening the facilities to the seafarers who were now in lockdown. But that he said had to be thought about in greater detail.  Generally, he said there were two opinions about the state of affairs. From the financial side, they had been hit very hard.  Everything was down and then there was also the service side. The hotel was now real-estate which had no value. One could hope to have Goans to come to these facilities, he said but that would just not happen.

Importantly he said Goa had been taken back by five years in terms of rates that can be quoted.  This is an industry that generated well over a trillion dollars in revenue but in India, he said it was not considered an industry. Goa and the rest of the country he said would have to need to leverage its advantage to excite tourists.       


We need the domestic crowd to open

The GM of Nazri Resort, Peter Silveira said it just did not make sense to open any hotels right now. He said “The cases are increasing right now in Goa and we need the domestic crowd to survive. We get our guests from these places and they are all in red zones. We need India to be COVID 19 free. We are now all jobless, the economy is shattered.  I am aware the hotel lobby is very keen on starting business, I am in the GM forum, and I can say this, we should not even think of it. We cannot play with people’s lives. We have to before restarting operations, disinfect the rooms and spend money. There is also talk of doing away with the buffet system and have only al a carte so that the same cutlery is not used

“Everything has changed. The game is different now and we have to learn to play by new rules”, he said poignantly. He is right. Dead right.



Iddhar Udhar