PANAJI: Since Goa is classified as green zone, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Goa has proposed that the government allocate a promotional campaign budget at the earliest requesting Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) to roll out a digital campaign towards revival of the tourism activities thus building confidence and highlighting Goa as COVID free State.
At a special virtual interaction of CII Goa with J Ashok Kumar, Secretary to Chief Minister and Secretary (Tourism).
CII Goa also proposed to him that the government should use this setback to go ahead and constitute the much need Tourism Board for the State consisting of industry experts and think tanks so that the industry can subsequently thrive in an efficient environmental and sustainable manner.
Nikhil Desai, Managing Director of GTDC; Hemant Arondekar, convenor, CII Goa State panel on tourism chaired the meeting. Dipak Haksar, chairman and Arjun Sharma, co-chairman, CII national committee on tourism and hospitality and 35+ members from CII national committee on tourism and hospitality and CII Goa State panel on tourism were present for the discussion. The chair expressed concerns faced by the tourism industry in the State due to the effect of COVID-19 and it’s has on the industry, not only in Goa but also nationally and globally in terms of tourists arrivals and resumptions of tourism and hospitality activities.
Addressing various issues faced by the tourism sector; Dipak Haksar stressed that tourism is the major economic activity in the State with a wide-ranging impact on economic growth, employment and social development. Tourism in Goa already being under stress over the last two years, the current COVID-19 pandemic has hit a double blow. The coming season has not just been wiped out, but the uncertainty has extended to the next season too. This unprecedented situation calls for an urgent need to address these challenges with well thought-out policies and actions.
Hemant Arondekar, convenor, CII Goa State panel on tourism discussed a three stages approach for the way forward for the tourism sector in the State such as how the tourism industry in the State could survive these though times with the support of the government both at the State and Centre; revival of the tourism industry and related activities as soon as possible by taking the right pro-industry policies and precautionary measures and subsequently thrive in a sustainable manner.
CII highlighted and adressed the financial stress of payment of wages/salaries by the employer to the employees was a big challenge as this was not sustainable to the industry and request to withdraw the notification issued by the government. With the tourism and hotel industry is in for a long haul with little or no hope of income seen for the next 6-8 months, the industry sought government intervention and handholding during this critical times. The Industry proposed complete waiver of the license fees for this year levied by the government and automatically extend the renewal for a year to support the industry. With most hotels going empty, it was proposed that the GST be reduced to 5% or 6% from the existing 12 and 18% based on room rate charged.
As regards the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) it was stressed upon to the Secretary (tourism) in the interest of the tourism industry, the government and stakeholders have to come up with a post COVID-19 tourism operational plan with complete details of every touch point and steps to be followed by each stakeholder in executing the services like entry points like - airport/bus stands/railway stations/land entry gates, ports etc, taxi operators, hotels/guest houses/home stays, restaurants/eateries, nightclubs, guides, two-wheelers and other rented vehicles, water sport operators, sites/attractions/events - churches, temples, forts, beaches etc and MICE, destination weddings, sport events.
J Ashok Kumar assured thre CII members that the government was already working towards supporting the industry and all the points raised would be taken up and addressed so that the tourism sector does not go into further crisis.