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Decision to tie liquor license to number of rooms could hit tourism – The New Indian Express

By Express press service

KOCHI: The Kerala government’s new alcohol policy, expected to be announced this week, has created a scare in the tourism industry following indications that it may tie the license to serve alcohol in starred hotels by the number of rooms they have.

According to the proposal, the liquor license would only be granted to three-star hotels with a minimum of 30 rooms, four-star hotels with 40 rooms and five-star hotels with 50 rooms.

Express

A senior Excise Department official said the new policy would be unveiled this week. But he added that while several proposals are being considered based on suggestions and recommendations from various stakeholders, the final decision would not be known until the policy was unveiled.

Tourism stakeholders, meanwhile, have expressed concern over the likely changes saying that if the license to serve alcohol is tied to the number of rooms, it would unnecessarily disrupt the tourism industry.

“Tourism could be called the most prosperous sector in Kerala. Remember the days when the policy stated that bars would only be allowed for four and five star hotels. This hurt tourism so badly that these regulations were withdrawn by the next government. Now policy makers are trying to fight back with spite,” said Jose Dominic, a tourism industry veteran.

He called plans to link the liquor license to the number of bedrooms as “strange logic”.

Ajay Kumar KS, a licensed tour guide who caters to German tourists, said tourists, especially international tourists, come to Kerala not to drink. “However, a large majority of Germans cannot imagine an evening without beer and wine. There should be no restrictions on serving at least beer and wine in all places where foreigners are staying, regardless of the number of rooms,” he said.

Dominic, a former member of the National Tourism Advisory Council, said the proposed policy would also kill ‘heritage’ as a category. “Policy makers seem to have completely forgotten the history of tourism in Kerala. The story of how small local entrepreneurs did what they could, which was small and in a way they knew was local, giving the destination of Kerala a unique identity. Now excise policy is trying to reverse all that,” he said.