Life In The Sunshine State Of Goa Post The Pandemic

Doors finally opened to Goa for tourists in August 2021. Considering how the entire state depends upon tourism for economic success, the lockdown had been harsh on the revenue-generating channels. The news came as a ray of hope for the hospitality industry and of course leisure travellers. The high court decision announced in August – to allow tourists to enter Goa without an RTPCR report only in case they are fully vaccinated brought the sun back into the sunshine state.

Text: Nidhi Lall

The state government viewpoint

The tourism minister shared that the sector was in favour of opening tourism, but people are being cautious after last year’s experiences across the country. Visitors who are fully vaccinated are permitted whilst showing their vaccination certificate. The rest need to go through the procedure of RTPCR tests. There are checks at the borders as the authorities need to keep the situation in control before it flares up into another covid wave.

Once in Goa, the travellers will have to follow all safety protocols. After all, it is for their own safety. All public places, hotels, restaurants/cafes are keeping up strictly with all precautionary measures while they run their businesses. The river cruises, casinos and several other verticals have opened up in September after a final ‘Yes’ from the government.

Goa opened up very gradually this year post the lockdown, although it witnessed a heavy flow of tourists during the New Year’s and the first half of January 2021. But the authorities are carefully gearing up for the 2021-year end traffic. It has to be strategic and in the interest of all stakeholders.

Breather for the Hospitality Sector

This year witnessed a lot of business tourists, where individuals choose the serene destination to rejuvenate themselves while working remotely. Work from home, the new norm of 2020-2021, gave birth to new conceptual eateries, working spaces, hostels and homestays. These places gave the working lot a beautiful and peaceful surrounding to work, with internet connectivity services, and great food & drinks.

The international travellers, which bring in the better of the revenues (approx. US $29 billion foreign exchange per annum), are still restricted entry. The UK, Germany, Poland, Russia and Ukraine are the primary sources of foreign tourists to Goa. But at least the domestic tourists are packing up and rushing to Goa for a breather from their year-long house arrests. The visitors were welcomed to a new Goa, where plenty of new hotels and restaurants with new style menus and interiors have sprung up. The smaller hotels are filling up with an occupancy ranging between 15-25%, whilst, the bigger ones have an average occupancy of 55-70% (increases over the weekend). Overall, only 55-60% of flights are operating as of now.

Goa is predefined as a party destination. Henceforth, the events and party hot-spots that attract tourists in large proportion have opened following strict safety protocols. Double vaccination is the only way forward. These party hubs, for anytime-fun and nightlife, is a great medium to relax and let loose especially during these chaotic stressful times.

Goa’s beach shacks another tourist magnet – have been permitted to open on basis that they follow the safety measures. Many shacks, especially in South Goa, rely heavily on foreign tourists. But due to restrictions on charter flights they have minimal customers, mostly domestic. If you visit now, one can witness that not many shacks are functional. Some are still under reconstruction/renovation.

Apart from the regulars, Goa has seen new homestays, co-working spaces, hostels and holiday apartments boom in the latter part of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. These stay options worked out perfectly keeping in lieu of the new category of tourist – WFH (work from home) and RW (remote working) – who invaded the Goan landscape end of 2020 onwards. Blue Lotus in Ucassaim promotes co-living and coworking for digital nomads, NomadGao in Assagaon, The Old Quarter in Fontainhas, Clay co-working hostel in a 90-year-old Portuguese house, Greenspace in Vagator, Moustache Hostel – are few names worth a mention for their aesthetic interiors, good internet connectivity and good food.

While the legacy brands have struggled, the state of affairs gave the new bees a fair chance in the sunshine. Also, the surprise factor has not let down anyone yet.

The New Normal is Here to Stay

Mask is a must no matter where you are. Sanitization, vaccination, social distance, safe and healthy eating – are just a few of the new keywords that have become a new constant.

Another fact about Goa is that the locals adore their land. It disturbs them when their homeland is invaded by mishandled crowd, and damaged by miscreants. The locals abide by the new norms and respect them. They have already reduced stepping out, than before, due to overcrowding in public places. It upsets them and creates fear of the new covid wave striking back in the safe-zoned Goa! But we do need to understand that the businesses need to start functioning in full capacity to revive the Goan economy. The ecosystem needs to work in coordination with each other. This calibration can only be done with support from authorities and people themselves, especially the ones visiting from outside.

The Goa state government is working on strategic advances to adjust to the new normal and support the tourism sector in revival. Given the size and the environmental vulnerability of Goa, it is wiser to prioritise quality tourism over large footfall volumes. Responsible tourism is the only way to keep this beautiful peaceful land clean and safe.

Note: Tourists travelling to Goa can refer to government guidelines through their website – https://www.goa.gov.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Updated-Comprehensive-Safety-and-Hygiene-Guide-Tourism.pdf

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Author: Nidhi Lall
Nidhi Lall is a wordsmith with a passion for written word. She has worked in the field of advertising and marketing for about 15 years. She also has an inclination towards designs and visuals, and she knows how to give a face to written words. Mostly a solo explorer, Nidhi chooses to walk the unbeaten path. Nidhi is currently following her heart, working as a freelance content writer and digital media consultant with multi-clientele. She is also part of Planet Goa family, as a Content Contributor.

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