Majestic Pride Casino’s Shrinivas Nayak urges Goa govt to reopen casinos, says tourism won’t thrive without entertainment

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The Goa government on Sunday issued a notification to extend the COVID-19 curfew in the state till September 6. The 24-hour curfew was first imposed on May 9 and has since then been regularly extended. While the government has unlocked carefully, opening up several economic activities, entertainment avenues like casinos and river cruises are yet to reopen.

Earlier last week, a delegation comprising members of the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) met chief minister Pramod Sawant, requesting him to fully open up the entertainment sector.

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With the state’s economy heavily reliant on the hospitality sector, the apex body representing hotel and travel trade in Goa made a representation to the Sawant to convey the economic distress the sector has witnessed since tourist footfalls have taken a hit due to casinos and cruises remaining shut.

“The government has taken a calculated risk by opening the industries one by one. Now, only the entertainment industry, especially the river cruises and casinos remain closed. Even though tourism has started with hotels and restaurants but without reopening the entertainment industry the tourists are not coming in large numbers,” argued director of Majestic Pride Casino Shrinivas Nayak in an interview with local Goa channel Prime.

“We have been suffering and we’ve requested the government to help us restart the industry by allowing us the permission to reopen,” he further stated, adding that the Casino Pride group has 2000 employees on their payroll in addition to maintenance costs to take care of despite no revenues.

“The TTAG and other hotel industries are supporting us because all our businesses are interconnected. Even though their businesses have started, they are suffering because some other industries are closed,” Nayak pointed out.

He further emphasized that until and unless the entertainment sector gains pace, the tourism industry in Goa will not regain its previous growth rate. Furthermore, international travel restrictions have made a big dent in the tourism and entertainment industries of Goa, he noted.

“Not only casinos but a lot of other ancillary industries directly associated with the casino industry are suffering as well,” he mentioned.

Several stakeholders within Goa’s tourism and hospitality sector echoed Nayak’s sentiments, requesting the government to reconsider its decision of not reopening casinos and cruises. They recounted stories of distress – from being unable to sustain their families to not being able to pay EMIs – to communicate the urgency of their pleas.

“The occupancy level of all hotels in Panaji city is very low and we are requesting the officials to rethink the opening of major entertainment hubs so that the occupancy levels of all hotels will increase so that we can get better assistance,” said Umeshchandra Mehra, the general manager of Hotel Park Prime.