Tourists do not visit Kerala to drink: Congress

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 15: Foreign tourists do not visit Kerala to only consume liquor, state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran said on Monday, hitting back at those who have said that the tourism industry would be the worst affected by the new liquor policy that aims at total prohibition in a decade.

"It's surprising to hear from some people that tourism industry would be the worst affected and foreign tourists won't come if liquor is not available. Foreign tourists do not visit Kerala to drink," Sudheeran said while attending a meeting here.

State Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar and others have questioned the rationale behind the new liquor policy. They had pointed out that the tourism industry would be affected.

Sudheeran, also an anti-liquor campaigner has come under attack for taking an adamant stand since February asking the Kerala government not to give license to any of the 418 bars which were closed due to poor infrastructure.

With Chief Minister Oommen Chandy taking a stand that those bars which have improved their infrastructure should be allowed to run, Sudheeran said Chandy surprised everyone by announcing that all bars, excluding those in 20 five-star hotels would be closed Sep 11.

The state will achieve complete prohibition by Oct 2, 2023 when all the 383 state- owned retail liquor shops will down their shutters in a phased manner.

The new liquor policy has been questioned by the bar owners association and the Supreme Court has directed the Kerala High Court to look into the matter and ordered that none of the 292 bars that are currently open be closed till Sep 30.

Sudheeran also pointed out that there would be no financial crunch on account of the new liquor policy.


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