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Goa hopes to revive tourism after May 17: CM

Panaji, Goa would like to open doors to tourism once the ‘Lockdown 3’ ended on May 17 and if the central government guidelines permitted, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said, here on Saturday.

“After May 17, we will welcome them (tourists), if the central guidelines, which will be issued then, allow (tourism activity). We are waiting for the central guidelines. Goa is coronavirus-free and that’s a positive thing,” Sawant said.

The Chief Minister said there was a buzz in the tourism industry. With Goa being declared coronavirus-free, it could start attracting tourists once the lockdown was lifted, he said.

Sawant said the state government would request the Centre for a bailout package for the tourism industry, worst-hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Other states have demanded special packages. We will also want help from the central government,” Sawant said.

With the mining banned, the closure of tourism activity on account of the pandemic has hit the state’s economy hard. Tourism accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the state’s gross domestic product.

Goa’s beach shack operators have described the 2019-20 tourism season as one of the worst. The popular beaches and other tourism sites have a desolate look since March 22.

During the last tourism season, which begins in October and ends in May, Goa attracted over seven million tourists that included more than half a million foreigners.

Although declared green zone, with not a single active Covid-19 case, Goa’s borders continue to be shut to regular traffic.

On situation along Goa’s road border with the Belgavi district of Karnataka, which has seen a spurt in Covid-19 cases, Sawant said strict vigil was being maintained.

“Our border monitoring is strict. The police force, para-medical teams, gazetted officers are on duty 24×7. When anyone from the neighbouring states enter, we test them on the spot. Only if their report is negative, we allow them in,” Sawant said.

According to road border protocol, details of drivers of trucks, carrying essential goods, and their routes are uploaded to a specially designed app, which tracks their movement until they exit the state.

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