WITH the first long weekend having shown more than 50 per cent bookings for starred hotels, the month of October will be a litmus test with several shifts expected in the travel sector, according to industry stakeholders.
While hotel tabs, which otherwise could shoot up to Rs 18,000 a night during peak season, are going for as cheap as Rs 4,000 with many even picking the airfare, the bookings in October are like “green shoots”, according to Goa Tourism Development Corporation’s MD Nikhil Desai. Industry stakeholders will be looking to ensure every method to consolidate later but look to stay afloat as “these are not times to look for profit”, Desai said.
According to Desai, GTDC has been monitoring the situation since March, and the next step will be to open up activities. “Tourists will not prefer to just laze in the rooms however good the service is. This is a chicken and egg situation and we are looking to see when the situation will be better to open activities and only that will push the productive numbers. At this stage it looks like it all will take time,” he said.
The first “chicken and egg situation to break” is the expected reopening of Dudhsagar Falls next week.
In numbers, the industry can also be explained through the demographics. While annual footfall is counted at 80 lakh travellers, only 10 to 12 lakh are foreign tourists, who usually stay through charter rates and for a longer period of minimum 14 days. This means that while the domestic tourist stays for a maximum of 4 days, a bulk of them “actually bring more revenue compared to the foreign tourist who is mostly a budget traveller if he has chosen Goa”, according to a Travel and Tourism Association of Goa official.
Tourism Director Menino D’Souza said the bulk of 33 per cent GDP of the state comes from tourism, of which “domestic tourists will be the biggest factor this year”. D’souza said the amended Tourist Trade Rules, 2020, also have been put in place from October, which means several inspections are expected. “There is also a circular from the Collector’s office and together with our rules we are looking to ensure hotels and all such shelters which offer accommodation come under regulations. They will have to pay an annual fee and make sure they are checked.”
From Monday, the government is also starting a drive where homes which are rented to tourists for shorter stay have to be brought under the Tourism Department. They will be checked for required infrastructure and hygiene standards.
D’souza said the old system of “one room rented by 10 travellers for a short stay also will have to stop” and limits will have to be set in.
The stakeholders are now having a review with several suggestions having been made by members. According to officials, the next stage is to reopen shacks though the owners are still struggling with migrant labour having not returned and their complaint of exorbitant license rates.
“All in all several issues have to be solved soon. This season is crucial to set the house in order,” said D Souza.
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