Kerala’s travel industry pushes for opening of bars, spas

With tourist footfall set to rise during the Christmas, New Year season, the government has come under pressure to permit the opening of bars and wellness spa services adhering to COVID-19 protocol.

The government can decide on opening of bars, wine parlours and wellness spa services in hotels only after considering inputs from the excise, health, and police officials in view of the warning over a spurt in COVID-19 cases after the local body elections.

Request rejected 2 months ago

The government had turned down bar owners’ request to reopen bars and wine parlours two months ago. Though the request had the backing of the Excise Department, the government turned it down after the Health Department and the police expressed concern that it would lead to increased transmission of COVID-19.

Now, citing the increase in footfall and good occupancy in high-end properties in Kovalam, Thekkady, Munnar and Wayanad, the travel sector is planning to push for reopening of bars and wellness spa services in at least hotels with valid licences.

Thomas John Muthoot, Chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Kerala chapter held discussions with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Minister for Tourism Kadakampally Surendran in this regard.

Mr. Muthoot said the Chief Minister had been informed about the increase in tourism inflow to the State. “Kerala is way ahead than other States in the tourism and hospitality sector. This is the time for the government to support the industry,” he said.

‘Spas will help hotels recover’

To recover from the negative economic impact of CoVID-19, CII Kerala Tourism Panel, led by Jose Dominic, has recommended that hotels with valid licences should be allowed to open up bars and serve alcohol.

With people keen to travel to Kerala to wellness services, the CII panel pointed out that spa facilities would help ease the financial crisis faced by the hotels.

There are 265 liquor outlets under Bevco, 36 outlets under Consumerfed, 576 bar hotels, and 291 beer parlours in the State.

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