The emergence of the new Covid variant Omicron will impact international tourist footfalls in Goa, the state’s Ports Minister Michael Lobo has said.
Lobo, who runs a chain of tourism related businesses in the state, on Friday also said that Goa would have to adopt a ‘wait and watch’ approach before deciding its next course of action in the tourism sector.
“We are hoping that this variant does not harm the people who have already taken vaccination. Looks like charter flights will be cancelled. Because charters were supposed to come at the end of this month and it looks like there will be cancellation because of the new variant,” Lobo said.
“So international tourism may be affected in a very big way,” he added.Before Omicron cases were reported in other parts of the world, the Goa international airport at Dabolim had received interest from Russian and Kazakhstan charter companies.
Nearly 900 charter flights mostly from Russia, the UK and Germany annually found their way to Goa before the Covid pandemic struck last year, closing down all international travel.
Charter flights account for the bulk of the international tourists arrivals to Goa. Nearly half a million foreign tourists arrived in Goa in 2019.
“There will be a slight effect in the intial stage, but we will have to wait and watch and see what is happening worldwide and also in India. Some cancellations have already started, but we are hoping that this variant does not spread,” Lobo said.