Friday, June 9, 2017

Kerala Liberalises Liquor Policy

The current Kerala government understood that the previous government’s strict licencing law aimed at reducing the alcohol consumption of the locals was detrimentally affecting the state’s tourist and conference industries and pledged to amend them.

A number of changes have been made including raising the ‘drinking’ age from 21 to 23 and allowing roadside vendors to re-locate and re-employ all the workers that lost their jobs.  From the tourists’ point of view the important changes are that 3 star hotels and above can apply for a licence and licencing hours in tourist centres will be increased to 10am - 11pm. 

These changes are to take place from 1 July 2017 and it is hoped that it will correct the foreign tourists’ perception that Kerala is a ‘dry state’. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Popular destination for 2017

India welcomed a record number of international visitors in the first quarter of 2017.  2.8 million arrivals in January to March was a 13.7% increase compared to the same quarter last year and a new record.    

Saturday, May 6, 2017

India bans liquor sales near highways

India has long had draconian rules regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol (liquor).  Drunk driving accounts for many deaths in India and heavy drinking by men who then abuse their wives and children is a major issue within the country.  So it is understandable that they want to try and curb the consumption of alcohol.  But invariably laws created to resolve a local problem are affecting the tourist industry.

Kerala has been trying to tackle the situation for a long time and two years ago introduced a law that meant only 5 star hotels could hold a full alcohol licence.  Beer and wine licences were available for 3 and 4 star hotels.  Below 3 star no licence was allowed.  Some hotels (eg Marari Beach Resort) went through the process of upgrading to 5 star in order to be able to offer their customers a full range of drinks. 

Now the Supreme Court in Delhi have come up with a law banning the sale of alcohol within 500m of a highway.  Originally everyone thought that the ban was on the liquor shops and vendors that operate right beside the main roads – this did not seem unreasonable.  But then a last minute shock announcement meant that all outlets including hotels would be affected. 

We were not unduly worried because few of our customers select hotels on the side of a main road or highway.  But we have now discovered that many road are classed as ‘highways’ and some of our customers’ favourite hotels are affected.  The small road off the National Highway that winds its way through a village and past a temple that leads to Marari Beach Resort is a highway and that hotel has now lost its licence!  Also the small ‘no through road’ that runs from Kumily through Thekkady and into Periyar National Park is considered to be a highway and resorts such as Spice Village and Cardamom County have lost their licences.  Even the Aranya Nivas Hotel inside the park has lost its licence!

The travel/hotel industry is obviously doing everything it can to resolve this issue.  Hugh amounts of money and jobs will be lost if this situation cannot be resolved.  In the meantime individual bar owners are doing what they can to reverse the ban on their own properties (such as blocking the front door and making the back door the main entrance if it is more than 500m from the road).  The individual Indian states are also doing what they can – many state highways may be reclassified a roads.

The situation is therefore fluid and until things settle it will not be possible for us to tell our customers what the licence situation will be for each accommodation used on their holiday. 


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