Dry day relaxation for Sunday may be considered
Kerala government today said the concerns of the tourism sector on the impact of the new liquor policy would be looked into but asserted that it is not going to backtrack from the decision.
The state government is of the view that a detailed study was necessary to know the impact of the liquor policy and would examine the industry’s concerns, state Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar told reporters here today while announcing the details of the Kerala Travel Mart beginning in Kochi on September 18.
Making it clear that the liquor policy was the unanimous decision of the state Cabinet, he said government was of the opinion that tourists were coming not just for savouring drinks but to enjoy the scenery and nature of the state. The minister also dismissed criticism that the new liquor policy was announced in a haste and said the government took a decision to cut short the availability of liquor as its consumption had become a social problem in the state.
Meanwhile, E M Najeeb, president of Confederation of Tourism Industry (Kerala region), said the new liquor policy would have an impact on the sector and wanted the government to formulate an ‘industry-friendly’ policy. He said sectors like Conference Tourism would be largely hit by the new policy. If Sunday is declared as ‘dry-day’, it will affect the Conference Tourism as majority of conferences and meetings are scheduled on weekends, he said. He also said there was a general apprehension among stakeholders that the new liquor policy would affect tourism prospects of the country in general and turn Kerala the last preferred destination.
Kerala Travel Mart president Abraham George said the government should consider separate licence for the tourism sector for serving liquor. A representation in this regard had already been submitted to the government, he said. As per the new liquor policy, only five-star hotels in the state can run bars.
The policy also envisages cutting down 10 per cent of the beverage outlets every year with a view to making Kerala a total liquor-free state in 10 years time. However, the new policy has been challenged by the bar owners association in the Supreme Court which has directed the High Court to take a decision on the closure of bars under the five-star category by September 30.
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