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Goa re-opens its hotels, but conditions apply!

The Tourism Minister claims that as the months-long lockdown is lifted, tourists will flock to Goan beaches from the cities like birds from the cages, and fill the State's empty coffers.

PANAJI, July 2: Coronavirus has crippled life in Goa like elsewhere in the world in the last few months with a prolonged lockdown which is now being lifted. The Centre began the Unlock Phase II on Wednesday with further relaxations in restrictions on movements and commercial activities. .

Some hotels in Goa reopened on Thursday after getting the necessary permission as the lockdown has ended. As required, they had submitted the applications for resuming their operations and a declaration that they will abide by the standard operating procedures. Proprietors of 250 hotels were granted permission.

Yielding to pressure from the tourism industry, Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar had on Wednesday allowed the 250 hotels to open from Thursday after fulfilling the requirements although the coronavirus situation in the State has only worsened in over a month. For months earlier the Government had been gloating over its corona record. As of now the cases stand at 1315 and three deaths.

The Minister ruled that hotel booking should be done in advance before entering the State. The booking should be in one of the 250 hotels allowed to open now. The tourists will be checked at the entry point and if there is no valid corona test certificate taken within 48 hours clearing them, they will be sent to a hotel for testing and they will not be allowed to move out tll the result comes. The tourist can move out only if the result is negative.

The Minister said he expects substantial footfall as people in cities having been locked up in their houses for several months of coronavirus shutdown, will be eagerly stepping out for a break in large numbers now.

He said, "We are in a bad shape and we want our economy to recover." However, on an earlier occasion he had spoken his mind: "We do not want tourists who consume drugs, cook on our roads or who create nuisance on beaches. We want good tourists who are wealthy and who can appreciate Goa and its culture."

The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) pleaded with the Government to allow the bars and restaurants also to open as hotels depend on them for their operations.

Tourism forms the mainstay of Goa's economy. It contributes 40% of the State's GDP. Its enchanting beaches like Calangute, Baga, Palolem, Candolim, Anjuna are famous destinations. Water sports and the free nightlife are also major attractions.

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