Unfriendly liquor policy harming Kerala’s tourism: Minister

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 13 (IANS) Targeting of liquor bars in Kerala by the previous government has adversely affected the state’s tourism industry, Tourism Minister A.C. Moideen has said.

No longer, for instance, is Kerala considered one of the best places to hold business meetings and conferences, according to a study conducted by the tourism department, Moideen wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan.

The decline in Kerala’s reputation as a top business conference destination is on account of the government policy taking a dim view of the liquor trade and consumption, he wrote.

The businesses are preferring other states to hold their conferences in, Moideen wrote, adding that the policy needs changes.

Introduced in 2015 by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government, the policy saw the closure of about 700 liquor bars, and in the bargain alcohol is now available in just two dozen five star-rated hotels.

The UDF government’s policy also saw the closing down of about 50 liquor retail outlets across the state.

The impact of the liquor policy on the tourism industry can be gauged from the fact that even drinking a beer at a resort that has no beer or wine licence will invite penal action.

The policy has put the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, led by Vijayan, in a quandary as any attempt to relax it could lead to protests from the opposition.

Protests are also expected from Christian churches that had applauded the policy.

In contrast, J.B. Koshy, who heads the Kerala State Human Rights Commission, on Saturday criticised the liquor policy, saying it is “impractical and lacks substance.”

–IANS

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