The immediate priority is to prevent the loss of yet another tourist season.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) and the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry have made a submission to the state and central governments to permit a resumption of foreign tourism.
More specifically, they have sought clearance for charter flights from countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. These countries have been allowing Indians to visit them on tourist visas. Timing is critical for the state’s travel and tourism sector. The tourist season begins from October. And a reopening of the state must be announced soon if foreign operators are to be able to market Goa and muster adequate numbers of tourists.
TTAG proposes a conditional reopening – a mandate that permits foreign tourists to arrive only if they have tested COVID-negative over the preceding 72 hours – and stringent enforcement of COVID mitigation SOPs. The body also reasons that re-opening may be revoked at short notice should a third wave hit the state.
Should all these conditions be met, TTAG requests a special charter tourist package visa or temporary landing permit to support seamless foreign tourist arrivals.
Goa is heavily dependent on tourism, with a sixth of its GDP coming from the sector. More than a third of the population is dependent on tourism for employment. During the lockdown, the state is estimated to have suffered losses exceeding Rs 7,000 crore, resulting in job cuts to the tune of almost 60 per cent. Pre-pandemic, the state recorded close to one crore tourist arrivals per annum, with about 10 per cent of them being inbound travellers from foreign countries. India hasn’t been issuing foreign tourist visas since March 2020.