In­dus­try is now left high & dry

As an un­in­tended con­se­quence of the re­cent ban on liquor sale near high­ways by the Supreme Court of In­dia, the hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism in­dus­try has been left in a dither. The in­dus­try shares its per­spec­tive and fur­ther ef­fects it will have on busi­ness acr

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Such a pol­icy is dif­fi­cult to both im­ple­ment and jus­tify. The un­in­tended con­se­quence again here lies on the ho­tels and res­tau­rants. I do not be­lieve that this ban was aimed at the travel in­dus­try. The im­pact of the ban on drunk driv­ing is im­pos­si­ble to mea­sure, as busi­nesses be­yond the stip­u­lated 500 me­tres will still be al­lowed to sell al­co­hol. Busi­nesses within the pro­posed banned dis­tance, in­clud­ing many ho­tels, res­tau­rants and bars that serve tourists, will lose cus­tomers and rev­enue.

Tourism means en­ter­tain­ment and if there is no en­ter­tain­ment, tourists will not visit those places. There will be a set­back for the ho­tels that have in­vested huge money on build­ing their prop­er­ties near na­tional high­ways. Ap­prox­i­mately one mil­lion jobs will be af­fected and al­most 50,000 crores of the govern­ment is at stake be­cause of this ban. The govern­ment should work out some so­lu­tion and of­fer some re­lax­ation so that the tourists who are al­ready stay­ing in a ho­tel and not go­ing on the road should not be dragged into this mat­ter.

The In­dian tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try as a peo­ple in­ten­sive in­dus­try, re­spects, hon­ours and com­mends any judge­ment which up­holds the safety of hu­man lives. As In­di­ans first, we are grate­ful for a highly func­tion­ing le­gal and gover­nance sys­tem which ad­vo­cates our safety and se­cu­rity. As the nodal body rep­re­sent­ing the tourism in­dus­try in the coun­try, FAITH is re­view­ing the way for­ward with key stake­hold­ers.

It is a sad mo­ment for the in­dus­try, not be­cause this happened but be­cause it is in­dica­tive of the pri­or­ity the tourism or ho­tel in­dus­try has in the coun­try. If tourism is im­por­tant for a coun­try and if it is one of the five T’s the Prime Min­is­ter has spo­ken about, how can we take such an ad hoc de­ci­sion without con­sul­ta­tion. Hote­liers have in­vested hun­dreds of crores of ru­pees to get close to the high­way to get more cus­tomers. Though liquor is not the bedrock for tourism, it is the hy­giene fac­tor for many peo­ple, not only for­eign­ers but for many In­di­ans as well.

The ban will def­i­nitely af­fect our busi­nesses. If this con­tin­ues then in the long run, for­eign tourists coming into In­dia who want to come here and re­lax will not do so. Even the do­mes­tic mar­ket is go­ing to see an im­pact of this ban. Des­ti­na­tions like Goa or other beach des­ti­na­tions, or any hill sta­tions around state high­ways are go­ing to see an im­pact of this de­ci­sion. Even do­mes­tic tourists would pre­fer to by­pass In­dia and go to in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions like Sin­ga­pore, Bangkok or Colombo where no such ban ex­ists.

This de­ci­sion has been taken without re­al­is­ing the im­pact it would have on the tourism in­dus­try. The per­son who filed this suit was only against liquor vends and shops on the high­ways, and not the res­tau­rants and the ho­tels lo­cated there. Many ho­tel gi­ants like The Leela Am­bi­ence Gur­gaon or The Tri­dent, Gur­gaon, were built much be­fore any such is­sues arose. Not ev­ery­body on the road goes to five star ho­tels. Most of them are in-house guests and those who utilise the ser­vices of these ho­tels are nor­mally chauf­feur­driven. The court should be clear in their man­date on what they mean in the ju­ris­dic­tion.

We al­ways talk about get­ting more peo­ple to travel to In­dia and then we put such rules that de­ter in­bound. Peo­ple who want to do it, do it any­way but we need to start be­ing more re­spon­si­ble. In Goa, 760 res­tau­rants have been af­fected by this ban though it may be a boon for some as peo­ple will go to other out­lets to get their daily tip­ple. It will also have an im­pact on the jobs of peo­ple work­ing in this busi­ness, es­pe­cially those work­ing at res­tau­rants and ho­tels near the high­ways.

The al­co­hol ban on high­ways to me is not a log­i­cal de­ci­sion. The de­ci­sion in my view has jeop­ar­dised hun­dreds of jobs and the govern­ment should look at this care­fully be­cause it is a big de­ter­rent to tourism, in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments and for peo­ple who have spent crores of ru­pees build­ing these units. The ban should be re­viewed, re­vised and then re­voked to avoid ma­jor losses to the hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism in­dus­try across the coun­try.

A few of our ho­tels will be af­fected. How­ever, in the smaller towns, which have limited room ca­pac­ity, it would re­ally be a damp­ener for both in­bound and do­mes­tic­mes­tic tourism. Liquor is some­thing which for­eign guests genok gen­er­ally look for whenn book­ingg ho­tels and stays. We re­spect the honourable court’s de­ci­sion which they might have takenn af­ter con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous pa­ram­e­ters. mhe My only sub­mis­sion is that the govern­ment should relook at its pol­icy ol­icy in a lib­eral way in the greater good of de­vel­op­ing dealso tourism in the coun­try.

Though we all re­spect the law of the coun­try and the de­ci­sions taken for the bet­ter­ment of so­ci­ety, the liquor ban was not a healthy de­ci­sion as tourism is one of the ma­jor in­dus­tries that drives in busi­ness to the coun­try. The rules and reg­u­la­tions for driv­ing un­der in­flu­ence of al­co­hol should be stricter. Ban­ning or re­strict­ing peo­ple will not yield pos­i­tive re­sults. This move will ham­per the over­all busi­ness prospects and In­dia’s loss will be some­one else’s gain. Other coun­tries are al­ready catch­ing up as pop­u­lar MICE and leisure des­ti­na­tion and these kind of re­stric­tions will fur­ther spoil the prospects. Sev­eral of our ho­tels have been im­pacted by the ban on sale of liquor on high­ways by the honourable Supreme Court of In­dia. We have got a copy of the judg­ment and we are work­ing through the nu­ances it men­tions to en­sure that we are in com­pli­ance of the law. We also see an im­pact of this di­rec­tive on our busi­ness es­pe­cially on our prop­er­ties in the ter­tiary mar­kets in the coun­try. We will work with the in­dus­try bod­ies to put for­ward our voice.

Ev­ery­body is keep­ing their fin­gers crossed. If this ban con­tin­ues, it’s go­ing to hit tourism in a big way. How­ever, we hope that the Supreme Court may re­view and re­lax its de­ci­sion. While we haven’t re­ceived any can­cel­la­tions as yet, we un­der­stand that in the fu­ture if this high­way liquor sale ban con­tin­ues, in­ter­na­tional travel would suf­fer for sure be­cause liquor is a ne­ces­sity for them and plays a big role when it comes to book­ing ho­tel stays and sub­se­quent travel plans. The Hon­or­able Supreme Court’s or­der will have a di­rect im­pact on the tourism in­dus­try as the ban is ap­pli­ca­ble not only to liquor vendors but also to restau res­tau­rants, ho­tels and resor re­sorts along the highwa high­way. It is im­per­a­tive tive that the hos­pi­tal­ity pita in­dus­try an and tourism in in­dus­try will b bear the brunt of this de­ci­sion as these in­dus­tries can­not sur­vive v without al­co­hol. Both do­mes­tic a and in­ter­na­tional trav­eller num­bers be will be im­pacted by this dec de­ci­sion, which in the long run will be detri­men­tal ri­ment to tourism.

This has wide ram­i­fi­ca­tions and not only on the sales of bev­er­ages in the ho­tel. When we com­pare this to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, it is a com­plex is­sue. While I con­demn drunk driv­ing, there are better ways to ad­dress this is­sue. An ar­bi­trary ban on le­git­i­mate busi­nesses has af­fected sales and the re­turn ex­pected from in­vest­ments that own­ers make in these prop­er­ties. It will also have an im­pact on peo­ple work­ing in these es­tab­lish­ments. It is a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion and we hope the voice of the ho­tel in­dus­try will be heard and a mid­dle path will emerge.

We see a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact. The bars have been closed; ho­tels have been im­pacted which has also af­fected em­ploy­ment. The de­ci­sion is of course taken be­cause of what has happened in the past but what is im­por­tant is how to curb drunken driv­ing and mak­ing sure lives are not lost. While the ban has been im­posed, it has se­verely af­fected the ho­tels and jobs of peo­ple in­volved. We need to come up with a so­lu­tion where the liquor ban is done in the right way and where em­ploy­ment and busi­nesses don’t suf­fer and in­no­cent lives are saved.

It came as a big sur­prise to us and it’s quite amaz­ing what is go­ing on in the coun­try. It does af­fect tourism for sure. Although not all of our ho­tels are af­fected, but in some lo­ca­tions it will have a big im­pact and it will be im­por­tant to see how it plays out. At the end of the day, it’s a strange sig­nal be­ing sent out by the govern­ment and we would like this to be re­moved in some ways.

Nakul Anand Chair­man, The Fed­er­a­tion of As­so­ci­a­tions in In­dian Tourism and Hos­pi­tal­ity (FAITH)

David Scowsill Pres­i­dent and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Coun­cil (WTTC)

Pronab Sarkar Pres­i­dent IATO

Ro­han Sable Com­plex Gen­eral Man­ager, Novo­tel Goa Re­sort & Spa, and The Novo­tel Goa Shrem Ho­tel, In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Soma Mathew Di­rec­tor of Sales & Mar­ket­ing, Holiday Inn Cochin, In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Raj Rana South Asia, Carl­son Rezi­dor Ho­tel Group

Peter Kerkar Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Travel Award win­ner

Paramjit S. Dug­gal Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Mi­nar Trav­els, In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Neeraj Govil Area Vice Pres­i­dent - South Asia, Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional

Kurt Straub Vice Pres­i­dent-Op­er­a­tions, Hy­att In­dia Con­sul­tancy

Srini­vas Sri­rangam Gen­eral Man­ager Novo­tel Imag­ica Khopoli

Deep Kalra Founder & Group CEO, MakeMyTrip

Ra­jiv Mehra Di­rec­tor Uday Tours & Travel

Ra­jesh Mudgil MD Planet In­dia Trav­els

San­deep Jain Di­rec­tor Spe­cial Hol­i­days

Mukesh Goel Di­rec­tor Ori­en­tal Trav­els

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