250 hotels to open in Goa from today

More than 250 hotels in Goa will throw open their doors on Thursday after the government granted permission to resume operation, the state’s Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has said.

Hotels in Goa had been shut since March, when the lockdown was announced to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The Goa government had sought applications from hotel operators who were willing to reopen with a declaration that they will abide by the standard operating procedures.

“The hotels will be allowed to start from Thursday. Those who want to travel to Goa can do so. Hotel bookings should be done prior to travelling to the state and with a hotel that has been allowed to reopen,” the minister said.

“Without bookings, tourists will not be allowed. At the entry point we will check if they tested themselves 48 hours prior. If not, the tourist will be sent to a hotel, where he will be tested. And once the test is negative, the tourist will be allowed to move out,” Ajgaonkar said. “If the tourist is staying with friends or relatives, there should be documentation.”

The tourism minister said that he was expecting those from the cities who were fed up with the lockdown and being stuck in their homes to opt for travel for a “change of scenery”.

“We are not forcing anyone to come. We are only creating facilities for them,” Ajgaonkar said when asked whether the reopening of the sector will help spread the virus at a time when the state is still struggling to cope with rising cases of Covid-19.

“We do not want to play with anyone’s life. At the same time we need to boost revenues and the economy. Economically we are in bad shape,” Ajgaonkar added.

The industry has also demanded that bars and restaurants be allowed to reopen in the state as hotels “cannot successfully (reopen) unless the bars and restaurants are given permissions to reopen as well.”

The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has been petitioning the government to allow them to reopen in order that they can begin taking bookings for later in the year when the European tourists start arriving.