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Goa tourism industry seeks SOPs before lifting of ban on foreign tourists

Goa’s tourism industry on Monday sought Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for foreign tourists ‘immediately’ so that work can proceed as soon as the Centre lifts the ban on tourist visas.

The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), a body of industry representatives, submitted a memorandum to Union minister of tourism and culture G Kishan Reddy seeking a resumption of charter flights — which bring a bulk of the foreign tourists to Goa — beginning October 1 even if it is via reciprocal bubble arrangement with countries.

“This will give the operators a planning time, as the flights have to be announced and sold, the rooms have to be procured, aircraft have to be arranged, flying and landing permissions have to be obtained. That there should be vaccination certificate verification and Covid testing for international tourists as followed by all international destinations in the world and they should be allowed to follow similar SOPs as of domestic travellers,” the TTAG said in their representation.

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According to industry representatives, charter planes with tourists from Europe including Russia flying in and out of Goa airport make up 92% of the country’s charter industry and also bring a sizeable number of tourists to Goa.

During his interaction with state political leaders and health workers in Goa on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted that the Centre was keen on relaxing the ban on foreign tourist arrivals that was put in place in March 2020 a little after Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic.

“The Centre is taking steps to welcome foreign tourists back. The government has taken a decision to give 500,000 tourists free visas. Travel and tourism stakeholders will be given loans of up to 10 lakh with a 100% guarantee by the government. Tourist guides are being given the facility of taking a loan of up to 1 lakh,” he said.

Foreign tourists travel in larger groups and stay for a longer time, often the average duration of stay is between 14-21 days. To compensate for the loss of a single foreign booking, a hotel will have to secure four to five different bookings of domestic tourists to maintain the same level of occupancy. A domestic tourist on average stays on between 3-7 days.

Meanwhile, the Goa Chamber of Commerce Industry, welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Central Government will permit international tourists into Goa shortly.

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