Covid-19? Where? Packed beaches, dance floors mark New Year celebrations in Goa

Panaji, Jan 1 : Packed beaches, traffic jams on roads and clubbers rubbing sweaty shoulders on packed indoor, air-conditioned dance floors marked New Year’s eve festivities in Goa, almost a hark back to the time before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s repeated implorations to tourists, urging then to maintain social distancing, wear masks and use sanitizers at regular intervals may have fallen on deaf ears, but for promoters of small hotels and beach shacks, the New Year celebrations appeared to mark a new dawn of tourism business, which was crippled severely throughout 2020 on account of the pandemic.

According to Cruz Cardozo, president of the Goa Shack-owners Welfare Society, the state’s beach shacks did brisk business amid the New Year rush, but added that shack operators expected more in terms of control of tourists on Goa’s beaches which were chock-a-block with visitors on New Year’s eve.

“We managed to do 60 to 70 per cent of the business, which we conduct every year… The Christmas and New Year rush will be a good advert for the tourism industry. Goa is already known to domestic tourists, but they will know now that it is a safe place to go to,” Cardozo told IANS.

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Beach shacks topped with thatched roofs serve food and beverages on Goa’s beaches and are almost symbolic with Goa’s coastal stretches.

Goa’s conventional tourism season stretches from October to March, when the relatively warm winter sun and the beaches attract European tourists who want to beat the severe winter season back home. Nearly half a million foreign tourists visited the state last year during the period.

In absence of European tourists this season, in wake of the ban on flights from the UK and concern over the emergence of the mutated strain in several countries on the continent, the surge in domestic arrivals appear to have filled the gap left by missing foreigners.

According to Serafino Cotta, president of the Small and Medium Hotel Owners Association, the most rush was seen on beaches in North Goa like Calangute, Baga, Candolim, etc, and registered hotels in South Goa appear to have missed the bus.

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“For some selected hotels in North Goa, the festival season was successful. South small and medium hotels were shut even for peak season because there are virtually no tourists here,” Cotta said.

Cotta also said that the nature of the crowds, where the ratio of male tourists far outdid the number of women tourists, was also a cause for concern. “This lack of balance between men and women is a cause for the future. This is not the kind of tourism we would like to celebrate in Goa,” Cotta said.

But both shack owners and hoteliers in Goa are anxious, about whether the rush of tourists will continue to last beyond the first week of January.

“We are waiting to see, what is the fate of the season after January 3. Whether this rush is purely temporary or whether it is only going to last for a few days or it will see us through for a couple of months more, we have to wait and watch,” Cotta said.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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