Goa pins hope on drive-in tourists from neighbouring states

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Panaji: The tourism industry in Goa is banking on drive-in visitors after the mandatory COVID-19 test for domestic travellers at state borders, railway stations and the airport here was lifted as part of easing of lockdown restrictions.

Goa Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Nikhil Desai said, initially, the sector will have to depend on drive-in tourists as there is very little response to flights and trains.

"Since borders are now open and tourists are allowed to enter Goa without COVID-19 testing, those from neighbouring states are expected to drive into the state in their own vehicles," he said.

Though the state government had opened up the tourism sector since July 2, average occupancy in hotels was around 25-30 per cent and several of them could not resume operations due to lack of manpower, he said.

The state tourism department's data showed 650 hotels had taken permission to resume operations.

Former Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) President Savio Messias said total normalcy in the sector will come when COVID-19 cases decline, as foreigners do not want to come to the state and move about wearing masks.

He said the rising infection count and deaths were sending wrong signals to tourists.

"As far as domestic travellers are concerned, only the adventurous and risk takers will prefer to visit Goa during this time," he claimed.

Meanwhile, Cruz Cardoso, president of Shack Owners Welfare Society said members were ready to restart business after abiding with all SOPs.

The association will meet state Tourism Director Menino D'Souza on Wednesday to request for a reduction in annual fees since the outbreak and lockdown had hit the business hard since March.

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