PANAJI: Ahead of the world famous Christmas and New Year celebrations in Goa, the state’s tourism sector is closely monitoring the likely impact of a novel coronavirus variant that was recently detected in southern Africa and that the World Health Organization has dubbed ‘Omicron’ and branded it a ‘Variant of Concern’, stakeholders said on Sunday.
They said charter flights and international services bringing foreign tourists start arriving in mid-December, heralding what the sector expects to be another successful season after a robust season during Diwali, with the coastal state being become the favorite destination for domestic travelers after COVID. -19 pandemic ebbed.
“We are waiting and watching. So far, at least, there is no impact (from Omicron) but we will have to wait and monitor all developments over the next 15 days. If cases increase, then protocols will have to be adhered to even more strictly,” Nilesh Shah, chairman of the Goa Travel and Tourism Association, told PTI.
He said the lack of precautions was the main reason why cases had increased in the past, although the country is now better equipped to fight an epidemic, as around 70% of the eligible population have taken at least one dose. of the COVID-19 vaccine. .
Explaining the situation of chartered flights expected to arrive in the state, Shah said: “Visa issuance process has started. Russia’s severe COVID-19 wave is cooling, UK cases are decreasing. Government of the Union allowed international flights from December 15, and many tourists come here on regular flights.”
Showing a brave front when asked if he was worried about losing the Christmas and New Year season to a resurgent viral variant, Shah said Goa was a safe destination as 100% of the eligible population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“Also, we are not afraid as such. We have to learn how to do business with the presence of COVID-19,” Shah asserted.