Tourism players say cheers to the new liquor policy on bar time extension

The travel/tourism players in the state have welcomed the Cabinet decision to extend bar timing to one hour more exclusively for the tourism sector. The new cabinet decision has come as a boon to the sector which has been suffering at first with the liquor ban and then with the time cap on bars.

A new liquor policy has been granted by the Cabinet Ministry with a revised timing for bars in the tourism sector. Currently, bars functioning from 11 am to 11 pm, will be able to open till 12 midnight as per the revised policy. The rule is not applicable in bars functioning in non tourism destinations.

Photo Courtesy: NIE

The new policy would come in force from 2nd April onwards. Foreign Made Foreign Liquor (FMFL) will now be available through Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco), Consumer fed and other retail outlets.

“The new, revised policy by the LDF government is highly appreciable,” said, P K Aneesh Kumar, President, Association of Tourism Trade Organisations India (ATTOI) and Secretary, V Sreekumara Menon.

As part of Haritha Keralam programme, the government also put forward a suggestion to use glass bottles instead of plastic bottles. There’s no increase recommended in the number of outlets at present. Phasing out of plastic liquor bottles will be done slowly and would be enforced in three months’ time.

There will be no change in the norms regulating sales in toddy shops until a toddy board is set up or for the next three years (whichever comes first).

Liquor, an important contributor to the state’s economy, is believed to have a direct impact on the tourism inflow too. The previous government initiated a phased liquor ban in the state in 2014 by closing bars and refusing to issue new licences, which, as per the tourism statistics, has hit the sector big time where it had registered a decline of 5.71 per cent in 2016 as compared to the 7.78 per cent in 2013. The MICE sector (meetings, incentives, conferences, conventions, exhibitions, and events) was severely hit as it recorded an annual loss of Rs 2000 crore in the period.

The current government has lifted the ban, revamped the policy in 2017 and provided licenses to three-star and five-star hotels to serve alcohol and allowed bars to reopen. This has reflected in the tourism statistics with the state posting 10.93 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in 2017 from the previous year. “The new policy is going to help MICE tourism big time. However, the move to increase the partnership fees for three-star category is not a positive one,” said Ajith Prasad, GM-Sales, B’Canti Beach Resort, Varkala. The partnership fees for bars above the three-star category is recommended to be the same as that of 5-star ones as per the new policy.