There may be a light!
Hello from Goa!.
Firstly i'm happy to report that its not raining.....in fact it hasn't been raining all week. That in my mind seems to be a first for this monsoon, it does seem to have been a very wet one. There is a flurry of local villagers heading to their fields to check their crops hoping that the rain hasn't spoilt most of it. Soon the harvest will start.
September is always a month of optimism and anticipation In Goa. We can finally go out without being guaranteed a downpour, shack owners start applying for licences, market stall holders begin their fight for spaces in night markets and more and more restaurants open as workers that have been home for the growing season, return to Goa for their seasonal work. Hotels get scrubbed down and repainting starts and generally the gloomy look of the small state begins to get brushed off so that it looks as spruced up as it can for the tourist season.
So what about 2020? Is Goa showing signs of this or has everyone lost hope?
When you drive around you can clearly see that the date of Sept 1st has spurred on some bar owners and more and more local bars and restaurants are now open. We have spoken to some local hotel managers and local restaurant owners, they have said that even though they don't have staff in place they are going to try to open by September 15th. So even though the majority of the places remain closed, there is some optimism amongst the few.
The borders are open without testing so we can anticipate that people will start to trickle in whether we like it or not. We have to bear in mind though that many many 1000s of migrant workers fled the state in May/June and normally about now they would be returning, most come by train however i'm not certain what train services are running, we are not hearing much about train travel at the moment. Our staff are showing signs of returning yet, it could be fear of travel, not actually being allowed from their state or no transport. Many migrant workers may be frightened of a repeat lockdown and again being stuck far from home and they may not risk travelling this season.
So what is in the news?
Well the Government seem to be very actively promoting attracting visitors to the state.
This article in The Hindustan Times is clearly promoting the short break in Goa.
The Virus continues to show no signs of slowing down in India yet though so is travel really safe?
Even the Chief Minister of Goa is reported to have the Virus and is self isolating.
The locals Goans are not so 'over the moon' about this Come to Goa policy....
Tweets like this have been flooding social media from worried locals
please please do not come to Goa for a holiday. we have a largely rural healthcare system and a deeply indifferent government - we cannot cope, we are already barely coping. if you have any respect or fondness for this state, PLEASE don't come here. please, just...don't.
You could list 100s of similar statements like this, even though they appreciate the economy is in tatters, they don't want tourists right now as they believe that domestic tourists are ignorant of local laws and beliefs, they will not respect the wishes of people to wear masks and they will flood the health care system which is already struggling to cope. Increased availability of cheap alcohol makes their behaviour worse is the thinking behind this and their unruly behaviour will only increase the spread of Covid-19 around the state.
So what will be open when they all decide the come, the shacks? Well it appears not if you read the article below
It appears that the majority of the shack owners in Calangute and Candolim are going to give this season a miss.
However in the next breath there is talk of Charter flights applying for slots from October 26th. Both Russia and the UK are reported to have applied for these charter slots.
So will that happen? If it does, will those who didn't apply for their shack licence regret it as it's a dog eat dog world out there in the business of shack running, once you lose your status of an experienced shack you literally have to fight for your regular spot.
We sometimes forget when we are wondering down the beach looking for the spot our favourite shack is in, is that they don't just get that spot every year, it's a lottery, if they don't get the exact same positions its then a battle between the old and the new until enough money is handed over . Shack positioning is vital when it comes to International Tourists finding the same one year in year out but getting that spot costs!! Will it be worth it this year or not, it's a tough decision.
Air India is doubling the amount of repatriation flights
They seem to be wanting to fly people who meet the criteria to and from countries under the Vande Bharat Repatriation Mission in larger numbers. These flights will last up until October 24th, which if you look at the dates that the Charters have applied for (October 26th) it seems to fit in exactly. Maybe the airline industry know more than they are letting on :-)
So all in all Goa remains quiet but there is a sense of movement and slight optimism in some camps and maybe a light at the end of the long dark tunnel.