Tropical SOJOURN
Business Traveller India|February - March 2021
Traversing the beach capital of India, Goa, amid the new normal
NISHA SHROFF AND SANCHITA NAMBIAR

Often referred to as the “Pearl of the Orient” in India, Goa was among the first states to reopen its bordersfor tourism when India started inching towards the revival phase last year. Tourism is key to the state’s economy as 40 per cent of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on it.

Therefore, proactive measures are being frequently rolled out by Goa’s government to speed up the journey towards full recovery. A case in point is the launch of “Coping with Covid-19: Survival and Revival of Goa’s Tourism Industry” report that has been developed with the objective of not only reviving the tourism industry, but also strengthening the sector by eliminating pre-Covid issues in the beach-state.

The report estimated that the loss to the industry was expected to be ₹2,000 crore to ₹7,200 crore and potential job losses of 35 per cent to 58 per cent. “These statistics have helped significantly to plan ahead in our conscious effort towards mitigating the challenges posed by Covid-19 and further transforming Goa as the ‘Sustainable Tourism Capital of India’”, Goa’s tourism board said in an official release.

Besides, Goa Tourism Policy 2020 also outlines well-thought strategies and objectives that aim to make Goa the “most preferred destination around the year for high-spending tourists by 2024” and “a world-class international tourism destination by 2030”.

The policy covers valuable insights for the development of coastal tourism, culture and heritage, nature-based tourism, leisure and entertainment and MICE among others.

On the safety front, the state has created a safe retreat for visitors by way of the SMS form of travel — Sanitisation, Masks, and Social Distancing. The state received World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Safe Travels Stamp, further strengthening its position as one of the top travel destinations in India even in the post- Covid scenario.

Ritu Mehrotra, country manager, India, Sri Lanka and Maldives at Booking.com says, “While 2020 was a difficult year for travel where travel dynamics evolved, it is heartening to witness optimism amongst Indians who have demonstrated their travel enthusiasm by booking and searching for domestic destinations and accommodations on our platform. Goa continues to be one of the top searched destinations by Indians travelling domestically and even more so during Christmas and New Year and we see this trend continue in the coming months as well.”

Further elaborating on Goa’s tourism demand, Sachit Wadhwa, co-founder, Book My Charters says, “Goa remains to be a top tourist destination in the country and we are witnessing a strong demand for private charters from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to Goa.”

GOING AROUND

Goa, as we know it, has no dearth of scenic viewpoints and tranquil routes. And to soak in these exhilarating sights, all that one needs to do is hire a bike/car, hop on a cycle or get into one of the flat-bottomed ferry boats for the ultimate Susegad way of travelling.

To further facilitate smooth commute across the tropical paradise, the state tourism board has launched GoaMiles, an app-based taxi platform. Services include city rides, booking tours, and airport transfers. Pay securely online and load balance in your GoaMiles account for cashless travel.

For a “greener” mode of transport, visitors can opt for B:Live that boasts being India’s first electric bike tour. Take a breezy bike ride across the region and immerse yourself in the local culture, history and heritage of Goa. During the B:Live experience you get to enjoy authentic food, music, and art without leaving behind carbon footprints. The tours are led by Captains who offer valuable insights to travellers about the place and its people.

REVAMPED DINING

Hotels and restaurants are making alterations across their F&B venues to offer a more carefree dining experience to guests who want to know what is being served to them, and how it is being served.

Sohrab J Parakh, director of marketing, W Goa says, “Guests across the board are becoming increasingly conscious of the food they consume. Chefs at hotels and restaurants have the added responsibility of being able to provide detailed information on the journey of each food item.”

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