With the Central Government announcing its Unlock 4 strategy, the Hotel and Casino owners of Goa still wait for the positive news for their industry. The opening of casinos, cruise ships and pubs are not the part of Unlock 4 process. This has immensely affected the hotel and casino business in Goa.
Goa and Sikkim being the only states in India where gambling is legal in certain restricted areas, they are hub for tourists and recreational activities. Tourists, both from within India and international, fly down to Goa not only to enjoy beaches and ‘Sunburn’ but also try their hands at Poker, Roulette etc.
The hotels generate massive revenues from their casinos but they have been under lockdown since outbreak of COVID-19. Therefore, hoteliers in Goa are demanding rebates in income tax as their business has been on record low this year.
Mr. Shrinivas Nayak, owner of one the casinos stated that, “With all indoor entertainment activities are closed, the tourists will find it hard to spend time here. Why would anybody fly from Delhi to Goa to spend evening watching TV in the hotel room. The casinos and cruise ships are the icons of Goa”.
Mr. Nayak further added “It’s not like the government allows and tourists will start pouring in. The process will take time. To help the hotel and tourism sector, the government must provide rebate in taxes”.
Like casino owners, hotel owners have also expressed similar concerns. One of the hotel owners, of Goa, Mr.Praveen Vashist, in an interview with IndiaToday, stated that, “We are following all kinds of precautions for the guests. Last month there was occupancy of 10-15 per cent and this month it is likely to cross 25 per cent. We hope that the government eases the traveling restrictions and allows the bars to open so that more tourists can come to Goa”.
Goa, in an unprecedented situation, is witnessing empty beaches with minimal tourists, thereby negatively impacting tourist business in the state. It remains to be seen whether government provides any relaxations to the businesses in order to help the hotel and casino industry battle with the losses due to COVID-19 situation.