THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tourism industry, hit hard by the curbs on liquor for the past three years, has wholeheartedly welcomed the LDF government’s new liquor policy with open arms.
According to the stakeholders, the new policy will help the industry recover from the downslide, especially in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector.
As per official statistics, the MICE sector registered a negative growth rate for the first time in 2015, a year after 730 liquor bars were closed down. The impact on MICE sector had major ramifications on the business of hotels and resorts too as over 70 per cent of them had conference facilities.
‘MICE Sector Hard Hit’
According to Tourism Director P Bala Kiran, the tourism industry has heaved a sigh of relief following the announcement of the new liquor policy. “When the Tourism Department goes out for promotions abroad, it is very hard for us to justify the curbs on liquor availability in the state.
All overseas marketing initiatives done for the state were getting negated due to the overall impression that Kerala was a dry state,” he said.
A majority of the foreign tourists have liquor as part of their life-style and the non-availability of alcohol in tourist destinations had adversely affected the state’s tourism fortunes. According to industry representatives, hotels and resorts witnessed large-scale cancellations post the partial liquor ban.
‘Change of Image’
Anish Kumar P K, president of the Association of Tourism Trade Organisations India, believes the hue and cry over the government’s new liquor policy was unwarranted. “In a hotel or resort, where tourists come to relax, many facilities are provided such as gym, spa and sports courts.
A bar should also be one such facility. A discerning tourist might only choose to give Kerala a miss if that facility is denied to him,” he said.
According to him, the new liquor policy will help in a big way to quell the propaganda by rival tourist markets that Kerala was a state that denies facilities to tourists.
Though the tourist arrivals and revenue from the sector has increased when compared to previous years, the rate of growth has not kept pace, according to G Sudheesh Kumar, Patron of Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA). “The impressive growth rate in the sector has taken a beating over the past two-three years. The adverse impact will not be immediate but will be a long-term one had not the government made a timely course correction,” he said.
It’s time to raise a toast
Bar licence (FL 3) for 3-star hotels and above.
Restaurants with FL 3/FL 11 licences can serve liquor at banquet hall after remitting a special fee.
Other licences - including FL 11 for beer/wine parlours - will be given to eligible applicants.
Liquor outlets along SH/NH, which were closed after SC order, can be relocated within the taluk where parlours can be operated.
Minimum age for liquor consumption raised to 23 from 21.
Foreign liquor to be made available in domestic lounge of international airports. Now, it’s available at the int’l lounge.
Toddy board to be set up in the state.
Three-star and above category hotels to sell toddy.