Kerala Tourism Minister A C Moitheen on Thursday called for a reversal of the state’s liquor policy, which has led to the closure of 700-odd liquor bars in the state.
Moitheen said the existing liquor policy, introduced by the previous UDF government in 2014, was a severe setback to the tourism industry.
“A change in the liquor policy is essential. Liquor should be made available in hotels operating in tourism spots. Although tourists do not come to Kerala only to consume liquor, availability of liquor is essential to attract them to the state,” he said.
The CPI(M) leader said the prevailing liquor policy had adversely affected the hotel industry. Many entrepreneurs had invested crores and lending institutions had also financed the sector. However, hotels had reported cancellation of several conferences due to the liquor policy, he added.
The minister said the tourism department had reported the matter to the chief minister and the excise minister for further discussion. The LDF will take a final decision, he said.
Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan backed Moitheen. “The government will take a stand that is favourable to the tourism industry. The LDF is for encouraging abstinence. We have a practical approach in this regard,” he said.
However, KPCC president V M Sudheeran said the LDF should go for a referendum on the liquor policy before changing it. The tourism minister’s demand for policy reversal smacks of a deal between the LDF and bar owners during the Assembly elections, Sudheeran said.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala had recently said that the liquor policy had led to the defeat of the UDF in the Assembly elections, and called for a reversal of the policy.