In a major boost to tourism operators in Goa, the State Government, in a positive step to revive the economy, has given a go-ahead and allowed river cruises and watersports operators to resume their services with immediate effect. (Last Update 18 October 2020)
The tourism department order was issued on Friday and comes as a shot in the arm for all those associated with watersports and cruise activities in Goa, especially with the Covid Pandemic completely crippling the livelihood of various agencies concerned with these activities.
The decision by the government within the tourism circles has been hailed in unison by various partners concerned as this will definitely attract tourists and travellers who have already started to enter the state, now that various travel restrictions have been eased. However, considering that the order to permit cruise and watersports activities, is a welcome sign, the government has given a strict directive as far as ‘safety and hygiene’ is concerned. The guidelines are very clear and adhering to these norms will be strictly monitored as social distancing, hand-sanitizing and remaining asymptomatic are the basic requisites to permit entry for tourists. Also, the staff that operates on behalf of the service providers at the jetty or beaches will also have to stick to stringent checks so as to ensure that there is minimal chance of contamination and spread of the dreaded virus on site.
As per the tourism department, detailed SOPs and guidelines have been laid down to ensure that such measures are adopted by operators from time to time. This will however be a challenge to all such operators as the ‘new normal’ is in place and had it been a regular season, tourism would have been in full flow in Goa as the season beings by mid-September and winds up by May. However, this being a recuperating period with the pandemic far from over, common sense should prevail and those responsible for various tourism activities ought to follow the guidelines and go about their business with caution.
As watersports and river cruises are a major attraction for tourists during season time, it’s a good sign that the government has taken a positive decision. This should augur well for the immediate future as even hotels have been allowed to resume operations but provided they have complied with SOPs.
Services Open Are
The tourism in Goa, which is a major contributor to the state economy, is slowly but surely taking baby steps to revive itself as a major chunk of earning and livelihood in the state depends on various activities related directly or indirectly to tourism. Be it hotels, bars, restaurants, markets or beach activities all are in their own right tagged with tourism in general. And, credit should go to The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), who put up a memorandum to the department and were quite fervent about their demands to restart watersports and river cruises as they claimed that the twin activities remained major attractions for domestic tourists.
TTAG’s initiative is praiseworthy as they have listed SOPs for the two activities and submitted the guidelines to the tourism department. According to the new official guidelines, river cruises have been directed to conduct thermal scanning of tourists and staff, and only if entrants are asymptomatic will they be allowed admission on a jetty. Once the cruise trip is over, the guests will have to de-board in a staggered manner so that there is no crowding and distancing is maintained.
Importantly, the guidelines also mention that boat occupancy will not be permitted to exceed 50% of the total seating capacity, which is a crucial clause in the new SOPs. Besides, boat operators will also have to ensure that seating arrangements are made in such a way that there is prescribed physical distancing. With the monsoon extending into October as well, the watersports operators will surely be breathing a sigh of relief now that the government has given the green signal as such activities generally commence in October once the rains recede. This also coincides with the opening of shacks on the beaches. Normally, in Goa, tourism picks up speed from October, but this time it is different as prolonged monsoon and the pandemic have put the brakes on the economy. However, with the new guidelines in place, things are definitely looking positive.