With the lifting of several restrictions from the Tourism sector by the State Government, many big hotels in Goa have resumed their operations with the maximum possible capacity, but the pinch of a pandemic is being faced by the smaller properties in Goa which may not open their doors at least for this season.
There are good signs of improvement in the situation as the vaccine for Covid-19 is in pipeline and the state government may resume the vaccination drive any time soon but the impact of the pandemic was so much that many small hotels have decided to remain closed for the time being.
The tourism season in Goa which begins in the month of October is already halfway through and there is no sign of foreign tourists coming down to Goa this season, but despite that most of the starred hotels have resumed their operations with the flow of domestic tourists in Goa.
According to the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), most of the big properties resumed operations are doing reasonably well but a major chunk of hotels in the small and medium categories will remain shut for the season.
“It will be better for them if they do not open. With footfalls being low, it will be extremely difficult to tide over the cost of operations,” TTAG president Nilesh Shah said.
There are over 4,000 registered hotels, and as of Friday, Shah said as many as 1,131 hotels totaling about 26,436 rooms have started operations.
According to the TTAG president Nilesh Shah, he received feedback from starred hotels that they are doing pretty well by offering better pricing and the occupancy in most of these hotels remained satisfactory during Diwali.
“We expect hotel occupancy to go up again from December 15 onwards which reduced after the Diwali festival. With no hope of charter flights coming to Goa during this season due to restrictions on international commercial flights imposed by the government of India, and with an overall drop in the domestic flow, we believe half of the hotels, mostly the non-starred, will not open for the season at all,” Shah said.
Savio Messias, a former TTAG president and a hotelier, said a particular problem the smaller hotels are facing is with the recruitment of staff, especially the kitchen staff who went back to their home states during the lockdown and have not returned since then.
“They are unwilling to come back; probably they are scared as they went through a bad phase during the lockdown period,” said Messias adding that most of the kitchen staff, including cooks employed by the hotels in Goa, are from UP, the North Eastern States and Nepal.
Another reason according to Mr Messias, the bigger hotels dropped their room tariff bringing in it on par with other hotels, resulting in throwing the smaller hotels out of the business. “It is only now that starred hotels have started raising their room tariff,” he said.
As much as 70 to 80% occupancy in smaller hotels, he said, was by charter tourists with an average stay of seven to 21 days. In probability, the present season is as good as wiped out “Even if hotels want to open to cater to domestic tourists, the occupancy for them will be less than average and it will not make economic sense to kickstart operations,” he said.