Akshay Kumar & Steena Joy- Mumbai
The new liquor policy recently announced by the Kerala state government will adversely affect the tourism sector, according to the hospitality and tourism industry in the state. Kerala has always been a high performing state in the tourism space and 9.5 per cent of the states GDP is contributed by this sector. One fourth of the state’s population (24.5 per cent) is employed into the tourism sector.
Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld on the collateral damage to the tourism sector, Jose Dominic, CEO, CGH Earth Group, said, “The tourism and the hospitality industry in Kerala is facing a complete collapse. Initially there were some occasions which were declared as a dry day, but now all the Sundays have been declared. All the MICE tourism groups which earlier used to consider Kerala as one of the best destinations, will now seek alternative destinations like Sri Lanka or Malaysia. This new liquor policy will only result in increase of bootleggers, drugs, criminals and mafia in the state.”
Speaking about the contradiction in the state tourism model, Dominic added, “By only allowing the five star hotels to serve alcohol, the Kerala state government is completely contradicting its own model of tourism which promotes experiential tourism by adopting the Kerala lifestyle, architecture and stays across rural Kerala. This model has brought Kerala, national as well as global fame.”
The tourism and hospitality industry of Kerala has chalked out an alternative solution to save the tourism industry i.e a proposal to the state government to issue tourism licenses to hotels in key tourism destinations. Speaking about the thorny issue, Abraham George, president, Kerala Travel Mart Society (KTM), said, “The new liquor policy will definitely have a negative impact on tourism especially in the leisure holiday segment. As tourists on holiday, especially foreign tourists who flock to Kerala, usually end their day with a relaxing glass of wine or beer. We plan to create awareness and convince the government to rethink on this issue. We hoteliers plan to meet the chief minister and we hope something positive will come out of the meeting. One solution to the problem could be that the government should issue special tourism licenses to the hotels in key tourist destinations so that they can atleast serve beer and wine to their guests.”
Dominic agrees, “The tourism industry wants the government to allow lesser alcohol content beverages such as beer and wine, so that tourism in the state can survive atleast in some form. The government should consider this appeal so that native job seekers need not go out of the state for a livelihood.”