Yesterday, Shereen Bhan of CNBC-TV18 appeared to get an interesting scoop from the chief minister of Goa.
Pramod Sawant was on Shereen's programme to discuss the ongoing impact of the coronavirus crisis, along with counterparts from Kerala and Puducherry.
Goa ‘not planning for tourism until November or December’
It’s no secret that tourism and hospitality is the mainstay of Goa’s economy (along with mining and pharmaceuticals) and when asked to speculate when tourism activity might resume in his state, Goa CM Pramod Sawant gave this unexpected response:
“At present till April 30 we are not promoting any tourism activity. We have already asked for the Prime Minister to continue ban on airline and railways. We are banning the road transport also. After April 30, we can think about railways and airline but we need to wait for tourism activity, it will start in the month of November-December onwards, now we are not thinking of any tourism activity.”
Mr Sawant was pressed by the presenter, and subsequently confirmed what he said - that there would be no tourism until November or December.
Obviously nobody knows when the coronavirus situation will ease, but the end of the year sounds a long way off, especially as India has not seen a large number of covid-19 cases or deaths.
His colleague Thomas Isaac, the finance minister of Kerala, added:
“Kerala has been relatively more successful in containing the coronavirus spread and I think in the coming days, things are going to improve further but we are very cautious. Once the lockdown is withdrawn we are expecting whole influx of migrant workers from outside, maybe a couple of lakh people and that would change the situation totally. So we are now preparing for that eventuality if it comes.”
India expects to remain under lockdown until the end of April
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi will address the nation this morning, and is expected to announce a two-week extension of the current covid-19 lockdown (due to expire today).
On Saturday, PM Modi said there was “consensus among the states” to prolong the curfew, citing the need to maintain the progress made in keeping coronavirus at bay.
Maharashtra (which has recorded nearly half of India’s 324 coronavirus deaths), Punjab, Telangana and Odisha have already announced their own lockdown extensions.
Goa is hugely reliant on tourism, so it was something of a surprise to hear the CM suggest they may not be prepared to welcome tourists again until November or December.
Either Pramod Sawant was shooting from the hip, or the state is being extremely cautious. At least for Goa, there’s currently no end in sight as far as coronavirus restrictions go.
What do you make of the Goa CM’s announcement, and was it a little premature?