KOCHI: Tourism stakeholders suffering from frequent hartals have decided not to cooperate with the total shutdowns any more. Kerala Tourism Task Force comprising 28 organisations allied to the tourism sector held a meeting in Kochi on Thursday and decided to move contempt of court over non-implementation of the Supreme Court and High Court directives against hartal.Baby Mathew, president of KTM, said following the request from tourism stakeholders, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held an all-party meeting with political parties and agreed to exempt the tourism industry from hartals.
“However, still the tourism industry is becoming the target of hartal organisers. After Nipah and flood, the arrival of domestic tourists has come down by 40 per cent. There is also a fall in the number of foreign tourist arrival. When the tourism industry is going through a hard period, the hartal is worsening the situation,” he said. Abraham George, convenor of Kerala Tourism Task Force and member of National Tourism Advisory Council, said hartals caused a loss of around Rs 300 crore alone to the tourism industry in the state. Each day, there are around 70,000 tourist staying in Kerala.
“On hartal days, all these tourists are ‘jailed’ in their hotel rooms. After having such bitter experience and financial loss, the tourists will never prefer to return to Kerala. The tourism industry contributes around 11 per cent to the GDP of Kerala and provides the highest employment in Kerala,” he said.
A resolution consisting of six points was passed during the meeting which includes opening tourism-related establishments on hartal days; lodging a case seeking penalty if any destruction of property takes place on hartal days; filing contempt of court over non-implementation of the directives of the Supreme Court and High Court against hartal; approaching the government and other political parties to evolve a consensus to exempt the tourism industry from hartals and obstructing freedom to citizens; forming a joint action forum consisting of all the industries affected by the frequent hartals.
Jose Dominic, KTM former president, said when political parties are claiming hartal as the fundamental right, saying no to hartal is also the fundamental right of the public. “People also have the right to move and work when a hartal is called. It is the obligation of the government to create a positive environment for rebuilding a new Kerala and investors show interest in coming to the state,” he said.
E M Najeeb, chairman of ATE Group, said when December and January are considered the peak season for the tourism sector in Kerala, only 30 per cent rooms in hotels are occupied now. Already, the tourism industry is facing competition from other countries which provide cheaper and attractive packages. By building a bad reputation, tourists will hesitate to visit Kerala.