PANAJI: The Goa government said on Wednesday that the state will be open for tourists from Thursday and that around 250hotelswill be permitted to start operations. These establishments, which had applied to the government signalling their readiness to start, will only be allowed to accept guests with prior bookings.
“Hotels will be allowed to take bookings from Thursday,” said tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar. “Let’s see how many bookings are received. People are fed up sitting at home. There is a demand to restart tourism.”
Goa Tourism
Health minister VishwajitRanesaid that social distancing and strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be enforced in the tourism sector, and that action will be taken against violators. Guests have two options once they reach Goa — produce a Covid-negative certificate from an ICMR-approved lab issued less than 48 hours prior to arrival, or pay Rs 2,000 and get a test done in Goa.
Hotels permitted to operate will have an isolation facility where guests can wait till the rest result is declared.
The issue of opening hotels in Goa has been contentious even within the state cabinet as Covid cases continue to rise in Goa and the state reported its fourth death on Wednesday. While ports minister Michael Lobo, who represents the Calangute consituency and has interests in the sector, said on Monday that tourism can’t resume till the Covid situation improves, chief minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday said that it can and will.
Rane, meanwhile, said that revival of the economy is the need of the hour. “People are losing jobs,” he said. “So we had to consider all sides and thus allowed hotels to operate.” Tourism is a major revenue earner for the Goa government. From 6.8 lakh domestic tourists in 1985 to over 70 lakh Indians marking their presence in the state in 2019, the arrival of domestic tourists has provided a more than satisfactory safety net for Goa’s tourism industry.
However, even as hotels reopen, restaurants will only be open for takeaways. Bars will continue to remain shut. Some, like Lobo, have called for their reopening. Ajgaonkar said that Sawant will soon take a call on this. He also said that it won’t be possible for illegal operators to start operations. “Only hotels registered with the tourism department will be allowed to start,” he said.
Not everybody is convinced about this. A senior official said that hotels are required to self-declare that they will abide by regulations laid down by the government, and only then will they be given permission. However, physical verification of whether these conditions are actually met will be carried out later, he said.
Welcoming the government’s decision, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Nilesh Shah said that though bookings will be low in the beginning, the sector will improve with time. He said that some hotels have been receiving queries from corporate clients and others who want to come to Goa and stay here for a month or more. “Hotels will benefit from such plans,” he said.
In Video:Unlock 2: Goa opens for tourism, hotels to accept guests with bookings

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