Goa Travel News

Martyred in Goa, satyagrahi from Punjab honoured by govt
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

Panaji: On Monday, Gurucharan Singh was among the relatives of five martyrs to be presented with a certificate of honour by chief minister Pramod Sawant, to mark the 75th year of India’s Independence.In Goa’s freedom movement, there were satyagrahis from the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra that participated. However, what sets Gurucharan’s martyr relative apart is that he, Karnail Singh Benipal, arrived in Goa from far-off Punjab, the distance stretched even further in the days of slow-moving trains of 1955.Karnail Singh was less than 25 years old, had only been married in May that year, but decided to join the satyagrahis marching to Goa’s border in August 1955.“He was very young. Barely 23, possibly. His wife was 14 or 15 years old,” said Gurucharan, to whose sister, Charanjit Kaur, Karnail Singh was married.“He had participated in India’s freedom struggle and was keen to see Goa freed from Portuguese rule once India gained its independence. So he hopped on a train from Punjab to come to Maharashtra without informing any of his family members.” Karnail had just been uprooted from Pakistan during the partition and had started over in Punjab in India as a school teacher in the early 1950s. When he took that train from Punjab, Karnail Singh, as a peaceful satyagrahi, had possibly not expected the brutality of Portuguese policemen, who shot at him at Goa’s border.On August 15, 1955, the satyagrahis of free India decided to strike Goa’s borders in large numbers.Goa vimochan sahayak samittee, a Pune-based organisation of satyagrahis, gave a call to youth from across the country to come together to ‘wipe out the pimple off India’s face’ (a reference to the Portuguese colonisers), to quote the now-famous phrase.The response was overwhelming, as tens of thousands gathered to enter Goa’s borders.The satyagrahis were divided into different groups. The two biggest groups of 2,500 each tried to walk into Goa’s borders at Patradevi in the north and Pollem in the south.It is at Patradevi that a young widow from Madhya Pradesh, Sahodaradevi, holding the Indian tricolour, led the group of satyagrahis along with comrade Chitale, in marching towards Goa’s borders. Sahodaradevi found herself shot at to dissuade her group from marching ahead. But as per records, the young lady did not let the tricolour fall to the ground even as she struggled with the sharp pain.“It is at this point that Karnail Singh stepped forward to shield Sahodaradevi. He opened his shirt and extended his chest, calling for the bullets. This is when the Portuguese soldiers fired shots at Karnail Singh, which led to his martyrdom,” recalled Gurucharan.Karnail Singh’s wife, still a teenager, was widowed, and now lives with Gurucharan and his wife Phulwant Kaur in Haryana — never having married again.“His wife is now 88 years old. She had attended the Goa government felicitation once before. But now, as she is too old to travel, she insisted that I should travel to Goa to accept the honour. It is my first time in Goa, though the government here called us many times earlier for state events,” said Gurucharan.If not for two American journalists who were present at Patradevi during the attack on the satyagrahis, the world would not even have known the circumstances under which the satyagrahis died. Their bodies had to be carried with great struggle across to free India by fellow satyagrahis.Relatives of martyrs, Hirve Guruji, Sheshanath Nanabhai Wadekar, Basavraj Malashetti Udagi, and Baburao Keshav Thorat were also honoured by the Goa government on Monday.

Martyred in Goa, satyagrahi from Punjab honoured by govt
Validity of beach shack licences to be extended by year
Times of India | 2 months ago | |
Times of India
2 months ago | |

Panaji: The government has decided to extend the validity of beach shack licences by a year in view of loss of business since March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. The three-year validity of beach shack licences had ended with the conclusion of the Beach Shack Policy on May 31 this year.Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte told TOI that since most operators failed to earn any business from March 2020 onwards, the government considered their request sympathetically and has decided to allow them to operate for one more year. “There won’t be a fresh allotment of beach shacks for the coming season. They (shack operators) had sought a relaxation for two years, but we have agreed to one year,” Khaunte said. The Shack Owners Welfare Society (SOWS) had earlier petitioned the tourism minister to allow the existing allottees to continue for another two years as a majority of them were unable to even cover the costs of their operations. Although the government had reduced licence fees by 50% during the last two seasons, the operators said it was not sufficient to make up for their losses.Shack operators on certain beach stretches hardly earned any business as UK nationals and other foreigners, who had traditionally formed a major chunk of their clientele, did not travel to Goa owing to pandemic-induced restrictions.Even after the ban on international travel was lifted last year, Goa did not receive a single charter flight from the UK, and a few that were scheduled had subsequently cancelled after India categorised the UK as an “at-risk” nation. Just a few charters came in from Russia and Kazakhstan. SOWS secretary John Lobo said he received queries from several of his repeat UK guests, but they ultimately decided not to travel to India. With India not issuing e-visas to UK travellers, their problems were compounded. “For the coming season too, we will not have UK tourists if the government continues with its old policy,” said Lobo.Most of the beach shacks were compelled to wind up earlier than usual this year due to a drop in business, but those located at popular beaches such as Calangute, Colva, Baga and Arambol did roaring business catering to the huge rush of domestic tourists throughout the season.“Some may not admit it, but shacks at popular beach stretches have seen good days after the third wave subsided in January,” a shack operator said.

Validity of beach shack licences to be extended by year
Even in non-peak season, starred hotels witness 70% occupancy in Goa
Times of India | 3 months ago | |
Times of India
3 months ago | |

PANAJI: While the tourism industry has had a good run over the past six months - after a prolonged, bleak period due to the pandemic - the monsoon doesn't seem to have affected the fortunes of certain segments of the industry. Starred hotels have been reporting a room occupancy of 70-80% in the first month of the rains, with prospects looking bright for July as well. This appears to be a nascent trend during non-season periods, when occupancy at hotels otherwise ranges between 50 and 60% or even less due a drop in footfalls. When matched with a similar time in the pre-pandemic period, stakeholders say the level of occupancy recorded this month was never so good. "Bookings this time around have been very encouraging. A 70% occupancy for the monsoon season is indeed good. The summer has not ended for the northern parts of India, so people are choosing to travel to Goa, and room tariffs being on the lower side have boosted the growth in footfalls," said Ralph de Sousa, president, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The other reason for Goa witnessing a rise in footfalls, de Sousa said, is because Southeast destinations - where Indian tourists are known to flock - are yet to fully open up for travellers.

Even in non-peak season, starred hotels witness 70% occupancy in Goa
  • Even in non-peak season, starred hotels witness 70% occupancy
  • Times of India

    Panaji: While the tourism industry has had a good run over the past six months — after a prolonged, bleak period due to the pandemic — the monsoon doesn’t seem to have affected the fortunes of certain segments of the industry. Starred hotels have been reporting a room occupancy of 70-80% in the first month of the rains, with prospects looking bright for July as well. This appears to be a nascent trend during non-season periods, when occupancy at hotels otherwise ranges between 50 and 60% or even less due a drop in footfalls. When matched with a similar time in the pre-pandemic period, stakeholders say the level of occupancy recorded this month was never so good. “Bookings this time around have been very encouraging. A 70% occupancy for the monsoon season is indeed good. The summer has not ended for the northern parts of India, so people are choosing to travel to Goa, and room tariffs being on the lower side have boosted the growth in footfalls,” said Ralph de Sousa, president, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The other reason for Goa witnessing a rise in footfalls, de Sousa said, is because Southeast destinations — where Indian tourists are known to flock — are yet to fully open up for travellers. “Goa has benefited from this circumstantial development. However, there is a caveat here. Flight tickets to Goa are expected to rise next month. A lot will depend on it as Goa attracts two main segments — youths and families — so if airfare goes up substantially, these segments may be affected. We hope the rise is marginal,” he said. Nilesh Shah, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), said hotel occupancy post-June 15 is expected to be over 70%. “This is a changed scenario for Goa in the monsoon where it can now expect higher occupancy — even more than 80%,” Shah said. “We found it difficult to find rooms for state guests ahead of a function held earlier this month. Most of the hotels in the starred category are running to full capacity,” a senior tourism official said. In the past, hotels would cap room tariffs during the monsoon, and if they were still not taken, they were put on sale. “For a change this time, I don’t think anybody is in a desperate need to put their rooms on sale, although a monsoon discount is on offer which could be about 20-25%, but during the weekends, hotels have been commanding good rates,” said de Sousa.

As drinking on beaches gets out of hand, stakeholders want solution
Times of India | 5 months ago | |
Times of India
5 months ago | |

Calangute: Tourism stakeholders in the Calangute-Candolim belt are looking for a solution to the mess created on the beach by the hordes of drunken tourists who throng the area on long festive weekends, like the recent Holi holiday, buy cartons of alcoholic beverages and binge-drink on the shore. “They come to drink and then dump the empty beer and alcohol bottles on the sand. Many of these bottles get broken, which endangers the safety of other tourists. The worst is when they throw bottles into the water,” Ashwin Gad, a lifeguard, said. Although drinking in the open on the beach is prohibited, with signboards warning of fines, the few policemen present are helpless when thousands of tourists pour into the popular beach belt. “Instead of trying to stop them from drinking, which is impossible, there should be designated areas on the beach where they can sit and drink, with garbage bins where they can dump the empty bottles,” Gad suggested. “That way it will also become easier for us to keep a watch on inebriated tourists who go in the water.” General secretary of the Shack Owners Welfare Society, John Lobo, claimed that most tourists from neighbouring states cram into multi-utility vehicles and travel to Goa for the sole purpose of drinking and sleeping on the beach. “There should be a check on these vehicles at the state’s borders and only those who have booked accommodation should be allowed to enter,” he said. “They should also be charged Rs 300-400 to enter. This will help to control the situation to some extent,” he said. Others, however, said it’s too late to stop such types of budget tourists. “It becomes difficult for decent tourists who want to walk on the beach and visit beach shacks because of these unruly crowds. But how to stop these cheap tourists is the question,” Manuel Cardozo, president of the Traditional Shacks Owners Association, said.

As drinking on beaches gets out of hand, stakeholders want solution
Shack operators keep fingers crossed over new strain fears
Times of India | 9 months ago | |
Times of India
9 months ago | |

Colva: With many countries, including India, planning a review of international travel, shack owners are worried as the peak of the season is only a fortnight away. “We were hopeful that worst was behind us with the flattening of the Covid-19 graph, but with the new variant first detected in South Africa and soon after some other countries, including England reporting cases, this has not only dampened the excitement but it is also like a body blow,” said a shack owner. Since the beginning of the season early this month, shack owners were doing brisk business with plenty of domestic tourists visiting beaches and the shack owners were elated with the government of India opening up for foreign tourists. Edwin Barreto, a hotelier and shack owner in Cavelossim, said he has been receiving calls from his guests that they might not visit Goa due to the new Covid-19 variant Omicron. “So this season also seems to be bleak,” he said. Business during the last two seasons at shacks had suffered as they were permitted to open only late into the season and shutters had to be brought down much before the season could end due to a rise in cases in Goa along with the rest of the country. Shack opperator Malcolm Rodrigues said that he has not erected his shack this season but is of the opinion that the country cannot afford another lockdown because of the unemployment it creates. “The government should identify some hotels to quarantine international tourists for 5-6 days and charge a minimum fee, and as the tourists visit Goa for a fortnight, the visitors will have at least half their holiday to enjoy their vacation,” he said. President of the Shack Owners’ Welfare Society Cruz Cardozo said he that has also received calls from his Russian guests informing him of their uncertainty to travel to Goa. “We cannot help it, new entrants into the shack business will suffer terribly even though the government has waived 50% of the fees.” He also said that domestic tourists flocking to Goa in large numbers has helped them earn some revenue in this bleak period. Another shack owner simply had to say, “Keeping my fingers crossed and silently saying a prayer.”

Shack operators keep fingers crossed over new strain fears
Extend relaxation on vax gap for int’l students: Sawaikar
Times of India | 10 months ago | |
Times of India
10 months ago | |

Margao: Commissioner of NRI affairs Narendra Sawaikar on Friday wrote to Union minister for health and family welfare (MHFW) Mansukh Mandaviya seeking an extension on the relaxation granted on the time interval between two Covishield doses so as to facilitate international travel for educational and employment purposes. The MHWF SOP grants special dispensation for administration of the second dose of Covishield vaccine prior to the prescribed time interval — after 28 days, but before 84 days — to eligible persons intending to undertake international travel for educational purposes, for joining employment in foreign countries, etc. Sawaikar pointed out to Mandaviya in his letter that upon the expiry of the time limit of the SOP on October 31, a large number of eligible persons, particularly seafarers, are unable to undertake international travel. “Goa, like many other states of India, has a large diaspora and NRIs, which include seafarers. It has come to light that there was a time limit imposed in the MHFW SOP up to August 31, 2021, which was subsequently extended till October 31, 2021, but thereafter there has been no extension,” Sawaikar said. He urged Mandaviya to extend the validity of the MHFW SOP. The special dispensation SOP issued in June was available to three categories of people — students who have to undertake foreign travel for the purposes of education, persons who have to take up jobs in foreign countries, and athletes and accompanying staff of the Indian contingent attending the Olympic Games held in Tokyo in July-August. A competent authority was mandated to be designated by the state/UT governments in each district for according permission for such administration of the second dose of Covishield.

Extend relaxation on vax gap for int’l students: Sawaikar