NEW DELHI/PANJIM: In a decision that will boost tourism in Goa, the Union Home Ministry on Thursday announced the fresh tourist visa would be issued to foreigners coming to India through chartered flights from Oct 15 and others from November 15.
Tourists will be required to follow protocols and norms notified by the Health Ministry. Later, all kinds of visas and stay in India will be considered, the ministry said.
With this, the restrictions placed on visa and international travel stand further eased given the present overall COVID-19 situation.
The decision has come as a major relief to the State tourism stakeholders, who have been eagerly waiting to a full-fledged resumption of inbound tourism to India.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), an umbrella organisation of related stakeholders, has welcomed the decision. “It is a welcome move but we need to understand the visa process decided by the ministry. The news has nevertheless brought a sigh of relief as we can now start marketing abroad. Most of the small hotels, which are still shut, can now open for business along with other traders, who are also by and large dependent on international arrivals,” TTAG president Nilesh Shah said reacting to the development.
Goa, which has been catering to domestic tourists for over a year owing to restrictions on international movement, has entered the tourist season this month. Although the State is receiving unprecedented domestic tourists, stakeholders had recently petitioned the Centre and the State urging them to resume charter operations.
The State expects charter flights to resume from Russia and UK and then from other countries. “We expect the peak tourist season in November-December will boost our economy. It is also expected that entertainment events will resume through this announcement,” another member of the TTAG said.
The shack operators, many of who have already started setting up structures, are also relieved with the MHA decision. “It's a major relief for all of us. We all had been waiting for this day. We welcome the decision and all the tourists to Goa,” All Goa Shack Owners Association president Cruz Cardozo told Herald. The association has urged visitors to respect the law, State’s culture and tradition while also adhering to the pandemic SOPs.