Even as the organizers claimed that the recently concluded eighth edition of the Kerala Travel Mart, the biggest travel and tourism event to promote tourism in the state, was a great success with the record turnout of foreign buyers in the tourism industry from across the world, there was still a question haunting the experts in the industry whether this huge response could be cashed in, as the Kerala Government has not shown any positive response on its decision to close down all the bars in the state, as part of its policy of blanket ban on foreign liquors in the state.
The organizers of the KTM and the experts in the tourism and hospitality industry have unanimously opined that the decision would certainly be a great blow to the industry, as many of the foreign buyers, who took part in the mega event, had already expressed their surprise and displeasure over the Kerala government’s liquor policy and also hinted that if the situation continued, their clients would no more choose the beautiful state as their preferable destination, once they knew that the Gods Own Country is a ‘dry state’.
Kerala Travel Mart Society President and Intersight Tours and Travels Private Limited Chairman and Managing Director Johny Abraham George said there is no doubt that the decision of closing down of all bar, except those in fivestar category, in the state would invite a serious crisis in the tourism industry.
‘Even though the foreign tourists are not coming to state for boozing, they would like to have soft drinks like beer and wine from bars, as it was their tradition to have such liquor during dinner and lunch,’ Mr Johny pointed out. ‘We are not against the government’s established policy of blanket ban of foreign liquor as part of the social commitment, but the government should think about the economic aspect as well, as the industry was expecting to generate a revenue of Rs 50,000 crore in the next two years through tourism alone, as against Rs 23,000 crore earned during the last tourist season,’ he pointed out.
Endorsing the views and concerns of the KTM organizers, majority of the foreign buyers, who took part in the KTM, expressed their concern saying what would be the result, if their clients understood that this time they won’t get the opportunity to taste the Indian beer, which was famous among foreigners. ‘ I don’t know what would be the reaction of our clients, when they realized that they would not have the chance to sip the Indian beer and wine during their holiday to Kerala. Of course, they could not do anything this time, as they have already booked their trip. However, once they landed here and realized the situation, the impact would be severe. Its impact may be felt in the next season, as they would discourage their fellow countrymen, who wish to visit Kerala. It will forced them to choose other states or other countries as their next holiday destination,’ Marielle van Delft, Product Manager of YourWay2GO, a Netherland Based Tour Operator, said.