Covid-19 resurgence kills Goa tourism’s hope of strong end to season
Covid-19’s resurgence has killed Goa tourism industry’s hopes of a strong end to the season, forcing establishments to shut shop early, stakeholders said. The sector saw robust revival between November and January but is now hit by cancellations and fall in bookings as infections rise, especially in states feeding Goa tourism, such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Delhi.
“The sector is witnessing a steep slowdown and we expect that to continue for at least another two months. One of the first victims of the rising number (of infections) is going to be optional travel with people either postponing travel themselves or being advised against travelling,” Nilesh Shah, the president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said.
“The slowdown began in the month of March despite a brief spurt in arrivals on account of the Holi weekend and has continued its downward trend since then,” Shah said. Hoteliers and shack owners, too, have reported falling footfalls.
“Our numbers (of footfalls) have witnessed a steep fall over the past few weeks and we don’t expect them to rise further this season. Even among the tourists that do come, we do not see anybody following protocol, which also puts us at risk,” John Lobo, a shack owner, said.
Goa’s tourism season begins with the withdrawal of the monsoon in October and usually winds down towards the end of May as foreigners return home and domestic travellers choose cooler climes. This season, tourist footfalls at the main beaches in the months of November to January matched those of previous seasons, despite the pandemic.
Last year, around 25-lakh tourists visited Goa up to December, a little over a quarter of normal arrivals, suggesting tourism was slowly picking up after lifting of travel restrictions following the lockdown. Prior to the pandemic, the state witnessed close to 90-lakh tourists including around 9-lakh foreigners.
Goa Tourism Development Corporation conducted a statewide survey through KPMG to assess the impact of Covid-19 on Goa Tourism. As per the survey, the overall industry loss during lockdown has been estimated at ₹2,062 crore. Potential loss for the 2020-21 season has been pegged at ₹7,239 crore and the potential job cuts were to the tune of 1.22 lakh (58%).
Goa’s tourism sector directly contributes 16.43% towards the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and also provides employment to nearly 35% of the state’s population that is dependent on the sector, according to official estimates.