CALANGUTE: Tourism stakeholders in the Calangute-Candolim beach belt are a worried lot, as a surge in Covid-19 cases is being witnessed in neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Tourists from these states form a chunk of visitors to Calangute and Candolim. With many anticipating a fresh lockdown in Maharashtra and Karnataka, memories of the pain of the last lockdown are rushing back for tourist-centric business owners in Goa.
Many shack owners, who had planned to shutdown early, have still kept their businesses open owing to the steady arrival of domestic tourists until now. But with Covid cases rising again, they are afraid that things could take a drastic turn.
Stakeholders fear that lack of checks at entry points for Covid-positive visitors may led to fast spread of the disease in Goa and this may spell doom for the entire industry.
“They should seal the border, or at least conduct strict checking,” Ravindra Vengurlekar, vice-president of the North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners’ Association, said. “Cases are going up, so they have to be strict about SOPs and keep the situation under control. We cannot afford another lockdown; this is not the solution. There should be strict testing at entry points and anybody with Covid should not be allowed to enter the state,” he said.
Pointing to the lax enforcement of Covid restrictions, a stakeholder, requesting anonymity, said the state government has to restrict the number of visitors at nightclubs to 30.
“But no nightclub can run with only 30 customers. So they’re all flouting the SOPs and there’s no one to check them. This is a sure-fire way for Covid to spread,” he said.
“The number of tourists coming to Goa has already dropped because of the surge. But more than that, there’s the risk of locals getting infected by tourists arriving from neighbouring states,” a shack owner said.
“They should at least start testing tourists at the entry points because there is nobody to check them afterwards. Nobody is wearing face masks on the beach and there’s no police to check this,” John Lobo, general secretary of the Shack Owners’ Welfare Society, said.