File photo: A foreigner couple spends time at sea side shack as most beds lying empty due to dearth of tourist at Morjim beach in Goa.(Hindustan Times)
File photo: A foreigner couple spends time at sea side shack as most beds lying empty due to dearth of tourist at Morjim beach in Goa.(Hindustan Times)

Goa arrivals at ‘near-normal’ ahead of New Year’s eve

Trends across December, which has traditionally been the busiest month for the Goa Airport, have brought good cheer to Goa’s tourism industry.
By Gerard de Souza | Hindustan Times, Panaji
UPDATED ON DEC 28, 2020 11:22 PM IST

Flight arrivals in Goa have touched the highest levels since the pandemic began with the once-busy airport handling 72 arrivals and departures on December 27, - highest since domestic flights resumed operation - in the strongest indication that year-end holidaying has not been dampened by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, this enthusiasm could be there only for the New Year celebrations which is the biggest attraction in Goa where tourism contributes to 18 per cent of the state gross domestic product (SGDP).

“There has been a consistent increase in domestic operations at the Goa International Airport. We have now touched 85 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels when it comes to domestic air traffic,” Goa’s airport director Gagan Malik said.

Trends across December, which has traditionally been the busiest month for the Goa Airport, have brought good cheer to Goa’s tourism industry that has felt the hardest blow of the lockdown in the summer.

Arrivals have shown a marked increase in Goa across December.

Also read: India’s first indigenous pneumonia vaccine by SII launched

Towards the end of November, the airport was handling 48 arrivals and departures which increased to 54 in the first week of December and further rose to 63 just ahead of Christmas on December 23.

Goa’s roads and beaches, which earlier this year witnessed only thin traffic and few footfalls as people were hesitant to step out, are now witnessing crowds and traffic jams almost similar to pre-covid times.

“Tourism has picked up and some hotels, especially the starred ones are witnessing 80 per cent occupancy. Some of the small and medium hotels are yet to reopen for business but things look positive. Credit to the Goa government for keeping a consistent policy and not introducing a fresh lockdown once we had reopened,” said Nilesh Shah, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

“Goa is benefitting from being a safe destination to travel too since our Covid-19 cases have reduced significantly unlike Kerala which has seen a resurgence,” Shah added.

According to the association, out of the 4,100 registered hotels in Goa, 1,300 are yet to reopen their doors indicating that the industry is still to feel the effects of the pandemic. Hotels have slashed rates by around 15-20 per cent in a bid to encourage people to travel.

He added that certain sectors of the tourism industry, including mega-events, large have gatherings as well as the lack of foreign arrivals, has continued to hamper the industry.

The industry is, however, keeping its fingers crossed over a possible resurgence in Covid-19 cases and is expecting a reduction in numbers across January and February.

According to a report by KPMG Ltd, authored at the behest of the Goa government, Goa’s tourism industry may have suffered a loss of between Rs 2,000 to Rs 7,200 crore and job losses in the range of 35 per cent to 58 per cent on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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