The Goa tourism department will seek financial help from the Centre for the industry stakeholders to overcome the crisis they are facing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
State Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, in an interview to PTI, said his department has written to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, seeking help for the tourism industry from the Prime Minister's relief fund for COVID-19.
"How much fund is required for it has to be decided by a panel of experts. We have formed a committee headed by state finance secretary Daulat Hawaldar to study it. We will have to work out a plan to get out of this crisis," he said.
Goa already has a tourism policy. The state wants to introduce a financial package for hoteliers, vendors, shack owners and others dependent on tourism so that they can restart their business, he said.
The minister further said the state government should not allow any tourists in the coastal state after the lockdown is lifted, unless they are certified negative for coronavirus.
This practice should continue for next two years till the situation normalises at the global level, he said.
Ajgaonkar said the coronavirus outbreak happened at a time when the coastal state had managed to get back its tourism industry on track after the global slump.
"But, because of COVID-19, we will again have to start from zero. Till all airports and other routes are opened tourism cannot re-start in the state, he said.
Nearly 80 lakh tourists visit Goa every year, he claimed, adding that till the situation does not normalise at the national level, the coastal state's borders will continue to remain sealed.
He said the lockdown has come as a "blessing in disguise" for law enforcement agencies which can now work on removing all evils, including the menace of drugs in the tourism sector, before the industry resumes.
The minister said the state tourism department had participated in a travel mart in China shortly before the coronavirus outbreak.
We were expecting tourists here from China. But we are thankful it did not happen. We want tourists to come to Goa, but not from COVID-19 affected places," he said.
"We should not allow them until they are certified coronavirus-free. And checking of tourists should continue for next two years, he added. PTI RPS GK GK
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.