Minister wants Goa to restart travel

PANJIM, Goa, 2 June 2020: Goa’s Health Minister Vishwajit Rane announced Monday that it was time for tourism activities restart, but it might have to settle for the domestic travel market to get its tourism economy moving.

Goa is one of the top tourist destinations in India, appealing to Europeans keen to take a beach holiday and explore India’s heritage.

But since January tourism came to a standstill even though the State has only reported 70 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 42 of them making a full recovery and 28 undergoing treatment.

India announced it was extending what it called a phased lockdown until 30 June with varying restrictions for travel between states. But overall the extension has eased rules and reduced the nightly curfew to 2100 to 0500 and has introduced phased reopening in areas not designated as red containment zones.

Domestic flights have resumed already. International flights are still not allowed, and the country has not reinstated the issues of tourist visas.

Lifting of the ban on domestic travel could help to alleviate the economic pressure on hundreds of family-run beach resorts, small restaurants and other tourist services in Goa that lost travel bookings from Europe.

Since January until 30 May, Goa had 70 confirmed cases of coronavirus, of which 42 people have recovered, with 28 active cases.

Stating that we have to live with Covid-19, Rane told the Herald Goa newspaper that Goa has an excellent opportunity to bounce back in the tourism sector.

“We need economic activity, and Goa is known as a tourist destination. People look at Goa as an international tourism destination,” Rane said adding that the tourism industry is the largest economy generating sector of the State.

“We are confident that as we have enhanced the testing measures under the guidance of chief minister,  I am confident Goa will bounce back as a tourist destination,” he commented.

“All depends on the stringent measures that we implement. We need to now move on and live with Covid-19,” he said.

Rane said that State has been wary about the people coming from Maharashtra, as the majority of the patient detected positive for infection, had arrived from that State.

The State government had earlier announced that it would work out special Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) to restart tourism activities and entry of tourists to Goa after1 June.

Union Ministry of Home Affairs, while extending the lockdown until 30 June for containment zones, has now declared an ‘Unlock 1’ provision in other zones. It will allow the opening of religious places, malls and restaurants, starting 8 June.

But for the moment, the easing of rules does not extend to international travel until tourist visas resume and there is no news so far on when tourists will be able to apply for a visa.

(Source: Herald Goa)