Compulsory Covid-negative certificates may impact Goa tourism

Published on : Friday, November 27, 2020

Tourism stakeholders in Goa said the Maharashtra government decision to mandate Covid-negative certificates from those entering from Goa could have anegative impact on the state’s tourist industry, especially as it’s just about finding its foothold after a six-month sabbatical.

The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has said that the Maharashtra government rule is a ploy to discourage tourists from visiting Goa, and to make them limit their travel plans.The trade body said Maharashtra should have exempted Goa, since the state has few cases.

“It is not easy to digest that the Maharashtra government thinks travellers from Goa will carry infection from here, when ours is the safest destination,” said TTAG president Nilesh Shah. “It looks like a political move rather than a decision made keeping in mind the safety aspect.”

By restricting tourists from visiting Goa, Shah said, the Maharashtra government probably thinks that they (tourists) can be diverted to the Konkan region and other parts of their state. Recently, Maharashtra has permitted the setting up of shacks. It will, however, not work, Shah said, since the Konkan is no match for Goa.

General manager of Zuri White Sands Resort and Casino, Rajendran Menon said that more than impacting tourist flow, the move makes sentiments towards a destination negative. “A large number of people are driving into Goa from Mumbai or other parts of the country, but senior citizens prefer to travel by air out of convenience,” he said. “Those preferring air travel will be affected.”

No sooner had Maharashtra issued the revised guidelines, Menon said his resort received calls from tourists from Maharashtra deferring their Goa plans by a few weeks.

Many within the industry felt the measure is uncalled for, since Covid-19 infections in Goa have drastically dropped since last month. From a high of 600 to 700 cases a day in September, the tourist state has reported a steady drop in cases since October. This month, Goa’s case positivity rate has fallen below 10 per cent, and mortalities, too, have reduced.

Hotelier Ralph de Souza said that since Goa has the “lowest” number of cases, pairing it with other states with high infection rates is “unjust”.

“It is not just tourists who are affected, but also other travellers who visit the state for business will have to incur added expenses,” he said. “A lot of businesses have their headquarters in Mumbai, and their executives often fly to Goa, and people from Goa, too, visit Mumbai. Every visit means they will now have to go with a Covid-negative certificate or get the test done upon landing at the airport by spending a few hours in a queue.”

In Goa, most private Covid-19 RT-PCR tests cost around Rs 4,500 each, and results are delivered in around 48 hours. Considering the high cost of the RT-PCR test, D’Souza said tourists will change their holiday plans for Goa. “I hope better sense prevails and the Maharashtra government drops Goa from its list,” he said.

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