06 May 2021  |   04:47am IST

'Let Goa breathe', Goans appeal to visitors

Goans are now pleading to tourists and those from outside to not come here because the health system is on the verge of collapse Goans had welcomed everyone for so long and it would be nice if the people heeded their advice and stayed away in order to put less pressure on the system. As one Goan remarked "Let us get oxygen back in our lungs"
'Let Goa breathe', Goans  appeal to visitors

Ajit John

It is a request that has been slowly gaining ground in the state. A request urging tourists to not come to Goa because the number of cases was increasing by the day and the medical facilities are now on the brink of collapsing. This may seem strange coming from a state where tourism generates a great deal of employment and revenue for the state. 

Beverly Mendes, finance professional said it was important to understand that it was temporary. She said “You have to understand the infrastructure in the state is so limited. It barely caters to the locals. We are just requesting those planning to come on holiday to stay put. Just for a while till Goa has enough oxygen in her lungs. After that everyone will be welcome with open arms.” 

Varun Hegde an entrepreneur said “Travelling and hosting cannot happen with a doubt in your mind - Is this the right thing that I'm doing? In our quest to revive the economy, we cannot burden the healthcare system and increase the recovery time. The suffering of people is real, and more people coming in increase the risk of cases. So the best thing is to make sure we give it enough time to recover and only then go back into inviting people. If we are hosting anyone, we need to make sure we as well as them feel safe.” 

Schubert Fernandes, a Goan based in Mumbai said he completely agreed with the request made by Goans. He said “There is too much devastation and despair all over and everyone needs time off to heal or help. We need to be sensitive and more importantly, responsible. Everyone needs to be a part of the solution and not add to the problem.” 

The behavior of many of the domestic visitors who would come here and behave as if Covid did not exist was slammed by Kabir Pinto Makhija. The former deputy Mayor said Goans were absolutely right in saying please stay away for a while till Goa recovered, recuperated and healed before welcoming tourists. He said “Economic activities will pick up but lives lost are forever. Hence it’s important to be extremely cautious and safe in these difficult times”. 

Samrat Kataktalware, a businessman highlighted the fact that there were no restrictions on entry to Goa which was very dangerous. He said “The positivity rate in Goa is the highest in the country today. Moreover, if borders are not closed there are chances of some new strains of viruses entering Goa. And since the government of Goa is not keen on closing economic activities, the people of Goa have to take things in their hands. Tourists should know the fragile status of Goa and its infrastructural constraints and thus requesting all tourists to avoid traveling to Goa is the only thing we can do”. 

Remy Rodrigues, an educationist, pointed out that keeping tourists away to ensure the health of Goan’s should have been the priority of the government right from the beginning. Goa she said was not a poor state. It would survive with a good development package from the state and central government. She said the need of the hour was a COVID control plan with strong emphasis on no visitors entering GOA. She said “Most countries all over the world sealed their borders to ensure the pandemic is well controlled from inside. Before opening borders to visitors everything was put in place for the ones within the country and strict quarantines for those entering the country. What about us? Not empty talks but strict implementation is necessary to reinforce that health is wealth and citizens are first priority. ” 

Mangirish Salelkar, an IT entrepreneur, felt Goa needed a short break from tourists to realign the state of affairs and the medical emergency. He said “Definitely, it was one of the safest places to escape as Goa had no restrictions. But, today it’s high time we keep tourism away and help Goans survive this second wave”. 

Jaison Fernandes who is carving a reputation internationally in the tough IT sector was blunt when he said “Goa’s healthcare infrastructure is completely stretched thin. Unlike bigger states we do not have the ability to provide healthcare for our own residents and those from other states. In fact, given this unprecedented crisis, our own residents are not able to receive the care they require. There was a point when Goa was barely registering a few cases a day but due to a liberal policy at the state borders, the problem is out of control right now. It’s important that tourists avoid Goa not only as a kindness to Goans and our healthcare system, but also for themselves. They are much safer in a bigger city with a better healthcare infrastructure”. 

Perhaps that is what is needed now. A slowing down of the rhythm and if the people in the rest of the country heed this call, it will be wonderful for the state.