30 Nov 2021  |   08:18am IST

Oh no, not this now

The new variant called Omicron could not have come at a worse time for the tourism industry in the state. Members of the industry voiced their opinion
Oh no, not this now

A new word has entered

the lexicon. Omicron is that word. It is the name given to a Covid variant that has emerged out of South Africa. Countries in Europe and other parts of the world reacted immediately and imposed restrictions as well as a complete lock down. Now that should be a source of worry to those in the tourism industry in the state. It has been a time of great change in the industry. The last year and a half was terrible for the business but his year was good with the domestic tourist coming to the rescue. This year with the virus under control, there was hope the international tourists would make their return to the state. Now with this variant now emerging will it affect the inflow of foreign tourists?

Abida Kumar of Minar Travels a charter operator in the state revealed her clients in London had talked to her in the morning to inform her that all the 22 charter flights from the UK were cancelled. She said “This happens now; Goa had just started to doing well in the tourism industry. I don’t know what will happen in the near future. The Russian market is very slow and we are getting just two or three bookings a day. It used to be around 30 a day when the situation was normal. It does not look good for us. It is so frustrating this variant has to come now.”

Another operator in the charter business is Sheik Ismail of Concorde Exotic Voyages India Pvt Ltd said now the situation depended entirely on the government at the centre. He said “A wrong decision now will affect all of us. A large number of people in Goa have taken two vaccines and we are safe from our side. Anyone coming will have to be checked. If we insist on quarantine then the international tourists will not come. We are getting bookings everyday but it is important for the government to make public its sops now. We are getting around 10-15 bookings a day. That has now been reduced to 2-3 a day. We need that sop really fast. That will let everyone know where we stand.”

Savio Messias hotelier said there would be an effect on the business without a doubt. He said “The international tourist coming in will be reduced. But we have the domestic tourist coming in large numbers. This variant is very contagious and it is worrying to see them walk around without masks or maintaining the space as required between people”. He felt there was a great deal of speculation taking place about the variant which was leading to fears. Savio felt it would be better in fifteen days perhaps when the facts about the variant would be known. People he said were speculating and fearing the worst.

Ernest Dias COO of TCI said the situation certainly looked scary and Europe was as good as closed. Another veteran of the business Aloo Gomes of Trail Blazer Tours said there was no doubt business would be affected. The situation was already heating up in Europe and restrictions were placed in Africa. The domestic market was god given but the fact everyone was moving around without any masks was a problem that had to be tackled. He hoped for the best.

Nilesh Shah the President of the TTAG said it was difficult to comment and he felt the government will have to take decisions based on the situation on the ground. He said unless the customer did not find it safe, they would not come. What could help Goa was the domestic tourists and the large number of weddings sets to take place in the hotels of the state which would bring in huge revenues.

A hotelier of a small hotel said this was the worst kind of news he could have received. Not willing to come on record he said the year had been bad and he like others in the small and medium hotel business were looking forward to the foreigners who came in large numbers during the season but now with this variant emerging, the business would be hit hard. He hoped the situation would improve and hoped some business would come their way in late December or January.

This variant could not have come at a worse time for the industry. One can only hope the situation on the ground improves.