Goa, India (AP)-Every night, the golden light of the sun falls on the smooth sands of Goa, as magical as usual, but strangely quiet and lonely. In this holiday season, few tourists enjoy the sunset at Indian party hotspots.
People’s subconsciousness about the coronavirus has been disturbed, which has weakened Goa’s vibrant beach scaffolding and noisy lifeline.
This western Indian country has been a Portuguese colony until 1961. The country usually became active in December and January. Its tourism-driven economy was booming. Foreign tourists and chartered flights drove crowds of vacationers.
In the past decade, Goa has been transforming from a seasonal mecca for fashionable backpackers and wealthy holidaymakers to the second home of the middle class in India. The booming construction industry is worrying about the impact on the fragile environment. Apartments overlooking the sea, by the river or surrounded by forests are in great demand.
The pandemic and the travel restrictions that followed have completely changed everything.
From Candolim to Calangute to Morjim, on the popular beaches of North Goa, there are many landmark coffee shops, tattoo shops and sunbathing shops The shed bars of the bath beds are permanently closed. The nightlife of the popular party center has died out.
Seema Rajgarh, 37, is a lonely figure on the almost deserted Utorda beach in South Goa. Her blue sari clings to the broad outline of the Arabian Sea and is adorned with jewelry made of beads and stones. Few domestic tourists are interested in buying them.
On a good holiday, the mother of three girls, whose youngest child is less than two years old, said she used to earn 2,000 rupees (US$27).
Now, the times are bleak.
She said: “Sometimes, I can barely make 200 rupees (US$2.7), not even enough to buy milk and food for the kids.”
Rajgar’s husband, a cook, lost his job during the national lockdown imposed in March to curb the spread of coronavirus infection. He is still unemployed.
The children’s tuition should have expired long ago. The rent is three months behind.
Rajagar said: “This virus has destroyed our lives.”
In 2019, more than 8 million tourists visited Goa, including more than 930,000 foreign tourists. According to the National Tourism Department, about 800 charter flights have arrived from Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
As of August, only 1.1 million people had been visited, including more than 280,000 foreign tourists.
The official report on the impact of COVID-19 on Goa released in December estimated that the tourism industry lost nearly US$1 billion due to the April-May lockdown. Potential unemployment opportunities are expected to be between 35% and 58%. More than one third of the 1.6 million people in Goa are engaged in tourism.
Of the more than 10 million coronavirus cases reported in India, Goa has accounted for 51,000 cases and 749 deaths. The aftermath of the sudden interruption of economic activity has been long, which has induced many business owners to call it an exit.
Last summer, during the lock-up period, designer Suman Bhat was sitting at home. His luxury brand “Lola by SumanB” was very popular among Bollywood celebrities with its streamlined silhouette. She asked whether to close the capital of Goa. Panjim’s flagship brand store is still struggling while waiting for the store to struggle. Sales are sluggish.
Bhat managed to keep her workers, but had to abandon her favorite retail space and moved to a lower-cost place in August.
“This is a difficult farewell for me. You have invested a lot of money in your business to create a customer experience, and this is completely taken away by you. She said: “No one can see, touch and feel you anymore. Products too. “
Bart said her workers are exhausted by the new routine of disinfection, testing and worry. With the end of the pandemic still invisible, the future remains uncertain.
“Can I wear evening clothes when I’m not going at night? Is it fair to ask people to pay this kind of money when everyone is trying to save money?” She asked herself.
“Everyone is exhausted. You don’t know when workers will have a fever. What do you do? Turn everything off and tell everyone to test, disinfect and spray? You are always in problem-solving mode,” she said .
A few months after the blockade began to ease, Goa showed signs of life. During the year-end holidays, the number of domestic tourists surged. The casino has reopened and visitors no longer need to produce a negative coronavirus test report, which is different from most other states in India.
But things are difficult to return to normal.
Yoga teacher Sharanya Narayanan is trying to figure out what is missing.
Narayanan, 34, came to Goa from Mumbai in 2008 to perform aerial acrobatics in a club and stayed at her home.
She taught in multiple locations, but had to switch to a virtual course during the lockdown. When the health center was allowed to reopen in August, she returned with only one job-her own private class.
She said: “The pandemic has changed everyone’s life, including mine.”
“I miss the sense of anonymity I enjoyed in Goa earlier.” She said: “Every time I meet a different person, it is always changing and evolving, so I can regenerate myself without getting stuck. “The attraction of Goa lies in the ephemeral nature of things.” “