Coronavirus cast a long shadow over tourism in Goa as the coastal state normally bustling with domestic and foreign tourists tried to cope with effects of the pandemic. Goa witnessed perhaps the worst tourist season with international chartered flights cancelled, beach shacks wearing empty looks and local businesses like taxi and bike rentals, dependent on this industry, suffering a body blow.
The coronavirus -induced has cost the state’s tourism industry Rs 1,000 crore in earnings, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. A report by the state tourism department and a private consultancy firm said Goa’s tourism industry may have suffered loss of between Rs 2,000 to Rs 7,200 crore and job losses in the range of 35 per cent to 58 per cent due to the pandemic.
The annual Feast of St. Francis Xavier, a ceremony which used to attract thousands of people each year, was organised in a muted way in Old Goa in December, as public gatherings were not allowed in view of the pandemic, which has claimed over 700 lives since March. While people formed long queues in the morning outside the campus of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, measures were taken to ensure there was no crowding at the place, and the event was telecast live online as well, said a priest.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the area where the relics of the 16th century Spanish saint are preserved. A team from the Archaeological Survey of India is undertaking restoration work on the four-century-old casket containing the remains of St Francis Xavier, church officials said. Consumption of liquor in public was not allowed during the famous Goa Carnival float parades organised by the state tourism department in February, days before the countrywide lockdown was announced.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant spoke of huge job losses due to the pandemic situation. The state government has offered 10,000 jobs in its departments in early 2021.
In the recently-concluded zilla panchayat polls, BJP won 19 of the 25 seats in North Goa and 14 of the 24 seats of the South Goa zilla panchayat, with election to one seat being countermanded following the death of a Congress candidate. A candidate of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party won a zilla panchayat seat, boosting his party’s bid to make space for itself in the coastal state.
Three infrastructure projects – the expansion of a railway track and highway, and a new power line – came in for flak from residents believing they will harm Goa’s pristine forests and pollute its picturesque towns with coal dust. The projects cut through the Mollem National Park and the Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary, a biodiversity hotspot