PANAJI: Ahead of the Goa Assembly's budget session, an apex tourism body here has urged the Pramod Sawant government to allow chartered flights in the state from "safe destinations" to boost tourism.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), in a memorandum to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday, said various trade bodies have suggested forming travel bubbles with Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, other CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries, the UK, Poland and Finland for these commercial flights.
The budget session of the Goa Assembly will be held between March 24 and April 16.
Sawant will present the budget on March 24, a senior official from the state legislature department said last week.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation last week extended the suspension of international commercial passenger flight services till March 31.
Scheduled international flight operations were suspended from March 23 last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Amid the suspension, special international flights have been allowed under the Vande Bharat Mission since May last year and under bilateral "air bubble" arrangements with select countries since July.
Under an air bubble pact between two countries, special international flights can be operated by their airlines between their territories.
"We have proposed that chartered flights be allowed to land in Goa from safe destinations and bubbles be formed," TTAG president Nilesh Shah said in the memorandum.
The state government should also provide landing and airport fees waiver to foreign airlines and operators of chartered flights for one year from March 1, 2021, he said.
This will help to revive the state's tourism industry, the TTAG said in its memorandum.
It also claimed that there are 5,000 to 7,000 unregistered service apartments, guest houses and homestays in Goa that do not pay any taxes, while a number of hotels, shacks and cruises are operating without license.
"They need to be brought under the tax net to increase the state's revenue so that law-abiding and legitimate businesses are not overburdened and there is a level-playing field," the memorandum said.