While tourism takes its own time to recover, the state has decided to focus on upgrading and strengthening its infrastructure – both physical as well as in terms of policy. The state will soon launch a crackdown on illegal accommodation operators and encourage them to register, for more transparency.
According to J Ashok Kumar, Secretary (Tourism), Government of Goa, there has been a revenue loss of around Rs2,000 crore in just the last two months of lockdown. However, he adds that there are opportunities available to Goa at this stage. “We are now focusing on simplifying and easing rules of doing business for existing businesses as well as start-ups in this sector. Our Chief Minister recently had a meeting with the tourism stakeholders and it has been decided that some relief will be granted to them. The immediate relief they are looking forward to is that they can automatically renew or extend whatever licences and registrations have been extended to them. This was a major request by them. There was also a request to waive off the licensing or renewal fee and it is being considered. We are also looking at extending validity period of the licences from renewing it every year to making it once in five years.”
He added that parallelly, his department is also looking at clamping down unregistered accommodation in the state. “There are a large number of unregistered properties in Goa in various categories. We aim to bring them under the gamut of the tourism department for sake of registration to ensure we have proper accounting of the number of beds and properties available in state. We are even modifying our rules to make it easy for them so they don’t have to get any NOCs or licences, etc. They just need a simple ownership document and register,” he reveals.
Nikhil Desai, Managing Director, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), says, “There is a need for Goa to focus on its infrastructure and regulate its tourism trade. A lot of hospitality establishments are operating without registering themselves. These illegal operators are going to face the heat in the coming days. At one point, we saw a lot of these OTAs on-board many of these unregistered properties, but those days are now over.”
Completing infrastructure projects
Meanwhile, tourists entering the state will need to get a COVID-19 test done 48 hours before their departure or undergo a test in Goa and stay in quarantine until results are out. Kumar adds, “We are looking at diversifying our products from just entertainment and beach tourism to emphasise on eco, nature and wellness tourism. We want high-spending, low volume tourists.”
Desai has also been focusing on completing the state’s infrastructure projects. “The Mopa airport for which the work is underway will be completed soon and will be a game changer for Goa’s tourism industry. A lot of these projects have been in the pipeline and will see the light of day soon. One of them is the Fort Aguada jail complex which is being renovated at a cost of Rs28 crore and will be completed by October 2020. Once that happens, there we will be a paradigm shift in our heritage tourism circuit. It will also have a sound & light show. I am also happy to share that the Rs100 crore convention centre in Panjim will be ready in the next 15-18 months. Once that happens, we are going to focus very strongly on M!CE,” he shares.
Desai also adds that his department is also going to approach the ministry for developing hinterland tourism in Goa which is one of the lesser-known products of the state.