Closing Down of Bar Hotels Renders More Than One Lakh Jobless in the State
With the UDF government’s decision to not to renew the licences of 418 bar hotels in the State, which could likely favour it in the Lok Sabha elections, more than one lakh persons have been left jobless until the hotels are reopened.
The food chain of the hotel business, along with those employed directly and indirectly, is at the receiving end now.
The tourism industry has also been hit badly, with the majority of the tourists arriving here belonging to the middle income group who depend on budget hotels. Kerala Bar Hotels Association working president Biju Ramesh said around 20,000 employees lost their jobs directly with the closure of the bar hotels.
There is also a food chain working with the restaurants and bars, which has been broken now with supply being cut by around 80 per cent.
“There are several people who depend on this business, including those who supply chicken, beef, vegetable, peanut and soda, as well as those who operate wayside eateries, restaurants, autorickshaws and taxis,” said Biju Ramesh.
“The livelihood of more than one lakh families will remain affected until a decision to reopen the bars is taken. If the government insists on improving the infrastructure now, unemployment will also increase,” he said.
According to Biju Ramesh, around 80 per cent of the domestic tourists arriving here are depending on budget hotels. Now, they are not having the option to have a drink at a reasonable price and are forced to spend more.
Though the Kerala Government has a loss to the exchequer, to the tune of `4 crore a day, from the sales tax and excise duty on liquor,it is being compensated by increasing the sale of liquor through Beverages Corporation outlets.
“This also results in an increase in the drinking habits of the people as they are forced to buy larger quantities from the outlets than what they regularly consume,” he said.
Meanwhile, KCBC Madyavirudha Samithi general secretary V P Jose said that the majority of the employees at bar hotels are from other states.
So, there is no fear of employment loss as they will find other jobs easily.
He also said that the decision of the government on the eve of the polls is a coincidence as the Supreme Court had already directed the State Government to ensure that the standards in the classification of the hotels are met.
The decision to close down bar hotels is not likely to influence the polls.
On a move to open the bar hotels after the elections, and insisting on improving the infrastructure later, Jose said that the KCBC would fight against any such move.
Jose Pradeep, Ernakulam district secretary of the Association, said that there was a misconception that hotels are attached to bars but, it is vice versa.
He pointed out that the government should take the initiative to create awareness among the public on the ill-effects of consuming alcohol.
“For the growth of the tourism industry, which is fetching huge amounts to the government, more budget hotels and other supporting services should come up,” he added.