Call to exempt tourism from hartals
Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society has called for an all-party meeting to discuss protecting the tourism sector, a key revenue and employment generator for state, from the impact of frequent hartals that inconvenience tourists and undermine tourism promotion efforts.
KOCHI:Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society has called for an all-party meeting to discuss protecting the tourism sector, a key revenue and employment generator for state, from the impact of frequent hartals that inconvenience tourists and undermine tourism promotion efforts.
“There were views from different quarters that hartals adversely affect the tourism sector and that public opinion should be mobilized to overcome this situation. It is a welcome sign,” said KTM president Baby Mathew.
He requested political parties and organisations to form a consensus on this issue. “Apart from excluding tourism sector from hartals, the government should give priority to protect the tourists and institutions in this sector during hartal days,” said Baby.
The KTM Society is a non-profit organization that includes multiple industry stakeholders working together to promote tourism in Kerala and strengthen the tourism economy.
KTM has also welcomed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s call to treat tourism as an essential service like hospital, newspaper and milk delivery, and similarly exempt from the purview of the hartal shutdowns.
Jose Pradeep, secretary, KTM said the statements of the Chief Minister and of the various party leaders were highly encouraging for the possibility of a consensus opinion to form regarding the exclusion.
Baby Mathew elaborated on the extent of damage the industry and the economy suffer because of the shutdowns. “Tourism sector contributes crores of rupees to the state’s economy and employs tens of thousands of people. Hartals leave visitors to Kerala in a lurch and shut down services, gravely affecting the sector and consequently our economic progress. We are very happy to see the Chief Minister understands the situation and we fully back his suggestion.”
“Flash hartals” that catch tourists unawares and threaten their freedom of movement are also on the rise in Kerala, he noted. “While we promote our state as God’s Own Country overseas, it greatly damages our efforts when we cannot even ensure basic freedom of movement to travellers within our state,” he said. “At a time when other states in India and neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka are campaigning aggressively to attract tourists, alienating travellers would have grave long-term repercussions on both our economy and our status as a preferred global tourism destination.”
“If this situation prevails here, entrepreneurs and investors will hesitate to start new ventures in Kerala. Tourists, who are stranded due to lack of food and transportation facilities during hartal days will not show any interest in visiting Kerala again,” Baby said.