After a surge in infection rates that debilitated tourism in Goa, two state tourism association presidents are urging the authorities to carefully plan out and conduct an image rebuilding exercise for the state so that it can restart tourism on a fresh note. The plan must be comprehensive, entailing everything from A to Z.
A delegation from the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) met Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar recently. They had a two-pronged agenda: to request for relief for the state’s tourism industry and to suggest an image-building exercise.
Sharing details of this meeting, Nilesh Shah, President, TTAG, says, “Our team met the CM along with the Tourism Minister, Chairman GTDC, Chief Secretary, Tourism Secretary, and Director Tourism of GTDC. We have requested them to conduct image-rebuilding exercise for Goa to undo the negative publicity received by the state during the last two to three months which has affected the image of Goa as a safe and secure destination.” The association has submitted a 10-point document with suggestions for both demands.
The government has informed TTAG that the state’s hospitality sector will open fully only after the positivity rate falls under five per cent. The association has insisted that tourism has to be started at the earliest with all protocols in place, and that tourists who are vaccinated must be allowed entry into the state freely. “We told the government that the state should be projected as a safe destination. The key to opening is vaccination. We can’t keep the industry closed. The livelihoods of lakhs of people dependent on tourism are at stake,” Shah said.
Meanwhile, Serafino Cota, President, Small & Medium Hotels Associations, suggests that Goa needs a change of image. “We need to make it a ‘safe’ destination at least by December 2021. After making it safe, we need to promote it as a ‘Safe’ destination, ask tourists to book only registered hotels so that every case can be tracked and traced, and ramp up our vaccination drive. Everything needs to be controlled – from entry points to hotels. That is the only way safe tourism can start,” Cota adds.
Some of the points suggested by TTAG towards this include online and social media campaigns showcasing all measures undertaken to keep citizens and tourists safe in Goa, ensuring all tourism-related businesses take only 50-75% of their actual capacity for atleast six months, special quarantine centres for tourists, entry protocols into Goa till October, and no high-capacity events till March 2022.
The Goa CM has gone on record to say, “Most tourism activities are closed in the state. We can think of restarting it only after first dose of vaccine has been administered to everyone that means only after 30th July. Third wave is being spoken about. At present, we can’t predict.”