Consternation gripped hoteliers a day after the Supreme Court ordered a complete ban on sale of liquor at all hotels and restaurants within 500 metres from the edge of a national or state highway. Four star and five star hotels which fall in that periphery now run the risk of losing their premium status. The guideline and classification of the Ministry of Tourism states that, “Bar licence is necessary for 4, 5, 5 Star Deluxe, Heritage Classic & Heritage Grand categories.” The industry body, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), is set to take up this matter with the ministry along with the overall issue of the ban on sale of liquor from these establishments.
“We will seek both legal advice and take up the matter with the government to determine our future course. We will also examine the aspect related to the status of four star and five star hotels, jointly with the ministry,” Amitabh Devendra, secretary general of FHRAI, said. He said the federation is currently assessing the number of hotels and restaurants that will get impacted by the order but the preliminary sense is that it will be a substantial number and percentage. According to Ministry of Tourism data until December 2015, there are a total of 197 approved four star hotels in the country, and 252 five star and five star deluxe hotels. The ones affected by the Supreme Court verdict could lose their status.
As part off its process to assess the number of hotels and restaurants affected by the court order, the FHRAI has written to all member hotels and restaurants. “Once we get the numbers from them, we will aggregate and arrive at the number of hotels and restaurants that have been impacted,” Devendra said, adding that there should be a better mechanism to stop drunk driving. “You can’t stop legal businesses being done with proper due diligence for the same,” he said.
While the industry body is yet to aggregate the number of hotels that have been impacted by the order, numbers from some states and cities paint a grim picture. In Delhi, for instance, all 10 operational hotels at Aerocity, situated close to the Indira Gandhi International Airport and within 500 m of NH-8, will be affected.
Arun Nanda, who heads the CII Committee on Hospitality and is chairman and founder of Mahindra Holidays and Resorts, said: “Uniform ban like this will be extremely detrimental to the industry. There are hotels on or near highways around airports, tourist destinations, industrial estates and major towns.”