Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Thursday promised a crackdown on the owners of illegally operating homestays and villas, which are rented out to visiting tourists, in a bid to plug the tourism revenue leakage.
Speaking to reporters outside the state secretariat late on Thursday, Ajgaonkar also said that the state government was mulling a proposal which involved opening up of bars and restaurants in Goa with proper social distancing norms, in a bid to woo tourists back to the state once the lockdown is lifted.
"There are many illegalities and illegal businesses like homestays and villas which are rented out illegally. There are no records of most tourists who stay in such places illegally.
"Now the tourists who enter Goa will be allowed to stay only in hotels and facilities which are registered with the Tourism Department. We will enquire into these (illegally rented) places. We will fine them if they do not register with the Tourism Department," Ajgaonkar said.
The hotel industry in Goa has consistently complained to the state government about the unorganised hospitality sector, which includes rooms offered on rent by aggregator apps, homestays and posh villas rented to groups of tourists, claiming that the government was losing a lot of revenue because most of these operations were not a part of the state government's tax net.
Ajgaonkar also said that the tourism industry in Goa is in a "disastrous state" on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, but said that once the lockdown is lifted, the state government may consider some measures to open up bars and restaurants and other facilities, which are essential for tourism promotion.
One of the suggestions which the government is considering, Ajgaonkar said, is only allowing tourists who bring along a Covid-19 negative certificate.
"We have discussed this in the Cabinet. We will be making a formal proposal to the Chief Minister, who will take a call on it," Ajgaonkar said.
Goa is reckoned as one of the top beach and nightlife tourism destinations in the country.
( With inputs from IANS )