PANJIM: After an unexpected entry of the deadly pandemic followed by lockdown, Goa’s tourism industry is steadily bouncing back but with a grim situation - loss of revenue and employment.
According to KPMG’s 155-page report titled “Coping with COVID-19: Survival and Revival of Goa’s Tourism Industry”, the industry suffered an estimated loss in the range of Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 7,200 crore during the lockdown.
This caused potential job losses, which according to the report are nearly 58 per cent. At the time of the survey, between 73,602 and 1,21,614 jobs were at risk due to the COVID-19 crisis, representing 35-58 percent of the total workforce of Goa’s tourism industry. Tourism’s contribution is estimated to be around 16 percent of the nominal State GDP with approx 35 percent population involved in direct jobs.
The qualitative section of the questionnaire revealed that tourism stakeholders appeared very concerned about the future of their staff and capacity to retain their employees. During the survey, given the absence of liquidity and bleak prospects of tourist footfall in the coming weeks/months, many business owners were forced to reduce their workforce and let go some of their employees. Twenty three percent of respondent stakeholders declared they considered cutting jobs and 33 percent said they might do so depending on how the situation would evolve.
“For a State that is predominantly dependent on the tourism industry for livelihood of its people, these statistics are alarming. It clearly brings out the need for Goa to create alternative sustainable livelihood sources of income for its people,” a prominent hotelier operating in Goa and South western region, said.
“Strengthening infrastructure and connectivity is the key. Although Goa continues to be known as a tourist destination globally, it has evolved over the years, with local people taking up various non-tourism related professions. The consistent efforts of the government to encourage establishment of various industries throughout the state by creating adequate infrastructure has been instrumental in creating livelihood opportunities for the people of Goa,” he said.
At present, 24 industrial estates offer infrastructure facilities to various industries pan-Goa and with State’s high literacy rate - 87.40 per cent, it calls for creating more livelihood opportunities in other sectors too.
The stakeholder added that enhancing existing, as well as, creating new infrastructure is important such as double-tracking of railway lines, Tamnar transmission line and NH expansion for improving industrialization in the State. The three projects have been in controversy even as the Central and State governments have given a go-ahead.
“While improving the power scenario is extremely critical for development of industries, connectivity enhancement through double-tracking and expansion of highways is equally important. Movement of men and materials is the most critical element in development of industry which in turn helps in creating alternative livelihoods for locals,” a Tourism official said, wishing anonymity.
Considering Goa’s huge population of young and educated workforce, the sectors which can be tapped for creating alternative livelihoods include Knowledge Based Industry, R & D Centers and Financial Services. IT Hardware and Electronics is another sector for creation of alternative livelihood.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has said that several people in the direct and allied sectors of tourism have lost their jobs. “Non-Goans involved in blue collared jobs were back to their native (during the pandemic) and did not return for various reasons. Gradually some are returning but the remaining are asked by their owners in Goa to not return as hotels haven’t started yet. The shacks, water sports, etc are greatly impacted also due to absence of foreign tourists,” TTAG President Nilesh Shah said.