Kerala tourism industry takes hard stance against enforced hartals

E M Najeeb, Jose Dominic, Abraham George, Baby Mathew and Riyaz Ahmed

Tourism industry of Kerala is taking strong stand against frequent hartals (strikes) in the state. In order to convey their protest and to take necessary steps to alleviate the losses caused by surprise strikes and the related issues, Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) has initiated the Kerala Tourism Task Force, which would handle the issues related to hartals hereafter.

A joint meeting of 28 organizations in the tourism sector, which convened on 20th December 2018 in Kochi, has passed a six-point resolution to ensure that services of the tourism industry would not be hampered due to hartals.

“We will discuss the resolution with various organizations within the state to create awareness of the socio-economic stigma created by hartals and to have consensus on the steps to be taken to prevent the practice of imposing unnecessary hartals,” said Abraham George, former president of KTM and Convener, Kerala Tourism Task Force.

Decision also has taken that the industry would not participate in the nation- wide strike, which is scheduled on January 8 and 9, 2019.

Tourism fraternity protest against hartal in Kochi

The task force will also take steps to file court cases for heavy compensation to those who announce hartals and creating troubles to the industry, with clear evidence, photo, and video footages.

“Though we are not opposing a person’s right to disagree, we will refrain ourselves away from the enforced hartals. Tourism is the most affected industry during Nipah virus outbreak and floods, but we withstood it. Hartal is a man- made disaster which we will object,” said Baby Mathew, President, KTM.

A resolution adopted by the meeting demanded the Government to provide police protection for the safety and security of tourists and tourism sector and uninterrupted functioning of institutions and services during hartals.

The industry will also move contempt petition against the respective authorities and those who make the call for hartal.

As per records, there were 121 hartals in the state during 2017, while in 2018 Kerala had faced 97 hartals so far; which means an average of 100 hartals happen in the state in an year. According to government statistics, tourist arrivals in the state is roughly around 1.65 crore, in which 30 per cent during off season and 70 per cent during on seasons. Accordingly, there will be around 70,000 tourists in the state, per day. As per this calculation, the total loss incurred by the industry would come around Rs 200 crore per day due to closure of the institutions.

Besides the financial loss, the trend also tarnishes the image of the state, which is famous for its tourism and travel industry, the task force noted.  When tourists face hartals, they will have nothing to narrate but the mental and physical ordeal they have to endure while on  visit to Kerala, which will be a negative propaganda and will impede the future opportunities. Former presidents of the KTM Society E M Najeeb, Jose Dominic and Riyaz Ahmed also spoke.