Goa beach shack operators, tourism sector await rising footfalls
Panaji, Sep 10 (IANS) Even as beach shack operators in Goa have grudgingly welcomed the state government's decision to slash their licence fees by 50 percent, tourism trade stakeholders have sought more relaxations on Covid restrictions in order to spur visitor traffic.
"We had actually asked the government for a 100 per cent fee waiver and if not, then it should be at least 75 per cent. But now that the government has given us 50 per cent, we won't grudge them for it. Something is better than nothing," All Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society President Cruz Cardoso said.
On Thursday, the state cabinet had cleared the proposal to halve the annual beach shack licence fee of Rs 1 lakh to help tide over the state's shack owners through the pandemic-hit times, which has seen a sharp dip in tourist traffic.
"The numbers are yet to pick up. Maybe if the government allows re-opening of more tourist avenues, then more tourists will come. But it all depends on the Covid situation and protocol which will have to be followed," Cardoso said.
At its peak before the pandemic, nearly eight million tourists visited the state annually, but the arrival of the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on travel and Covid-related protocols have led to tourist footfalls taking a hit.
Goa's 105-km-long coastline has around 400 beach shacks dotting the coastal sandy stretches. Shacks are a crucial part of the Goa beach experience and allow visitors to sip and munch while enjoying a view of the waves.
According to Travel and Tourism Association of Goa President Nilesh Shah, the immediate future of the tourism industry in Goa depend on what turn the Covid situation in the country eventually takes.
"A lot of verticals like casinos, watersports, river cruises, spas, and nightclubs continue to remain closed as part of Covid restrictions. Depending on the situation over the next few weeks, if the government relaxes some of these restrictions we could see an uptick in tourism," he said.