‘Foreign tourists will be allowed in Goa soon’: PM Modi
India’s record vaccination rate will help tourism-dependent states like Goa to reopen quickly and safely, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday. He, however, cautioned the state that if safety protocols are not observed, tourists, foreigners, will not arrive.
Addressing state officials and health workers during an interaction to congratulate the state for having ‘officially’ completed vaccinating 100% of the population with the first dose - a target that has been achieved one and a half months after the deadline that was initially set - the Prime Minister said vaccination was key to revive the sector.
“India’s vaccination drive is not (only) a cover for health, but a cover for livelihood too. It is important that tourism destinations open as soon as possible… the Char Dham yatra in Uttarakhand. Goa’s 100 percent vaccination has become important to revive the tourism sector,” Modi said.
“You imagine, hotel industry people, taxi drivers, hawkers, shopkeepers... Once everyone is vaccinated (then) tourists can come to Goa with peace of mind. Politics aside, Goa is a part of a select group of tourist destinations where people are vaccinated,” he said.
“Tourism can resume in the coming tourism season just like before. We are planning to allow foreign tourists to come here. Domestic and international tourists can take pleasure in coming here. This will be possible when we give as much importance to corona precautions as much as we have given for vaccinations. It is our duty,” he added.
“Today, the number of cases have come down, but we still cannot take this virus lightly. You will get as many tourists and travellers depending on how much importance you give to safety and hygiene,” he said speaking during the online interaction.
The prime minister also announced ‘fully guaranteed’ loans up to ₹10-lakh to people involved in the tourism industry and up to ₹1-lakh to registered tourist guides.
“The central government is taking steps to welcome foreign tourists back. The government has decided to give 5-lakh tourists free visas. Travel and tourism stakeholders will be given loans up to 10-lakh with a 100% guarantee by the government. Tourist guides are being given the facility of taking a loan of up to ₹1-lakh. In the future too, the Central government will be ready to help those to take up the tourism sector forward,” the Prime Minister said.
Responding to the prime minister, Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said the industry will reopen fully when it is deemed safe to do so.
“Tourism is the main business in Goa. He mentioned Sikkim and Kerala as touristic states that are nearing 100 percent vaccination,” Sawant said.
“Tourists coming to Goa will consider themselves safe because of the 100 percent vaccination coverage, which will end up attracting national and international tourists to Goa. He (the prime minister) is very much concerned about the taxi drivers, hotel workers dependent on the industry,” Sawant said.