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Tourism Crisis Stakeholders to Chalk Out Action Plan


http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/Tourism-Crisis-Stakeholders-to-Chalk-Out-Action-Plan/2016/01/05/article3211888.ece

05 January 2016

Rajesh Abraha, Kochi: With the difference of opinion between the Tourism Ministry and players in the tourism industry over the state of affairs in the sector intensifies, all the major stakeholders will be meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday to chalk out an action plan to resolve the issues.

While the government is painting a rosy picture of the State’s tourism sector, players in the sector say they have been badly hit by the unfriendly government policies, including the liquor policy that ‘killed’ not only the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) segment but also the internationally acclaimed ‘Kerala Brand of Tourism’.

“All the aspects, including suggestions put forth and concerns raised by the industry, will be discussed at the meeting,” said Kerala Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao. According to him, the meeting will also discuss formation of an action plan to ‘energise’ the sector in 2016. Abraham George, CMD of leading tour operator Intersight Tours and Travels, who is also president of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), said players in the tourism sector would raise all the issues in the sector, and put forth a suggestion to create ‘special tourism zones’ that are insulated from the liquor policy. “The government can issue special licence for resorts and hotels in these zones,” said George.

ATE Group chairman E M Najeeb said though the industry has been reeling under the slowdown, the government is still in denial mode. “We plan to raise the issue with the government on Tuesday,” he said.

“The government can give special concessions to companies/hotels that pay luxury tax or generate foreign exchange earnings so that only genuine tourism players are benefited from the schemes,” said George.

Jose Dominic of CGH Earth said Kerala had already ceased to be a MICE destination as the segment is facing more and more impediments.

The liquor policy which says ‘only five star’ is a slap on the face of the ‘Kerala model’, disfranchising the unique and successful model that puts a premium on ‘Keralathinte Thanima’, which helped the State win the prestigious Ulysses Award for Responsible Tourism. “All hotels will now be forced to become ‘five Star.’ This, coupled with the lengthening queues at the government-monopoly liquor outlets and the 10-pm bar-closure, will slowly and surely destroy Kerala’s most successful industry - tourism,” he added.