As an unintended consequence of the recent ban on liquor sale near highways by the Supreme Court of India, the hospitality and tourism industry has been left in a dither. The industry shares its perspective and further effects it will have on business across the country.
David Scowsill, President and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)
Such a policy is difficult to both implement and justify. The unintended consequence again here lies on the hotels and restaurants. I do not believe that this ban was aimed at the travel industry. The impact of the ban on drunk driving is impossible to measure, as businesses beyond the stipulated 500 metres will still be allowed to sell alcohol. Businesses within the proposed banned distance, including many hotels, restaurants and bars that serve tourists, will lose customers and revenue.
Pronab Sarkar, President, IATO
Tourism means entertainment and if there is no entertainment, tourists will not visit those places. There will be a setback for the hotels that have invested huge money on building their properties near national highways. Approximately one million jobs will be affected and almost `50,000 crores of the government is at stake because of this ban. The government should work out some solution and offer some relaxation so that the tourists who are already staying in a hotel and not going on the road should not be dragged into this matter.
Nakul Anand, Chairman, The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH)
The Indian tourism and hospitality industry as a people intensive industry, respects, honours and commends any judgement which upholds the safety of human lives. As Indians first, we are grateful for a highly functioning legal and governance system which advocates our safety and security. As the nodal body representing the tourism industry in the country, FAITH is reviewing the way forward with key stakeholders.
Deep Kalra, Founder & Group CEO, MakeMyTrip
It is a sad moment for the industry, not because this happened but because it is indicative of the priority the tourism or hotel industry has in the country. If tourism is important for a country and if it is one of the five T’s the Prime Minister has spoken about, how can we take such an ad hoc decision without consultation. Hoteliers have invested hundreds of crores of rupees to get close to the highway to get more customers. Though liquor is not the bedrock for tourism, it is the hygiene factor for many people, not only foreigners but for many Indians as well.
Peter Kerkar, Group Chief Executive Officer, Cox & Kings, India Travel Award winner
The alcohol ban on highways to me is not a logical decision. The decision in my view has jeopardised hundreds of jobs and the government should look at this carefully because it is a big deterrent to tourism, infrastructure investments and for people who have spent crores of rupees building these units. The ban should be reviewed, revised and then revoked to avoid major losses to the hospitality and tourism industry across the country.
Paramjit S. Duggal, Executive Director, Minar Travels, India Travel Award winner
Everybody is keeping their fingers crossed. If this ban continues, it’s going to hit tourism in a big way. However, we hope that the Supreme Court may review and relax its decision. While we haven’t received any cancellations as yet, we understand that in the future if this highway liquor sale ban continues, international travel would suffer for sure because liquor is a necessity for them and plays a big role when it comes to booking hotel stays and subsequent travel plans.
Rajiv Mehra, Director, Uday Tours & Travel
The ban will definitely affect our businesses. If this continues then in the long run, foreign tourists coming into India who want to come here and relax will not do so. Even the domestic market is going to see an impact of this ban. Destinations like Goa or other beach destinations, or any hill stations around state highways are going to see an impact of this decision. Even domestic tourists would prefer to bypass India and go to international destinations like Singapore, Bangkok or Colombo where no such ban exists.
Sandeep Jain, Director, Special Holidays
A few of our hotels will be affected. However, in the smaller towns, which have limited room capacity, it would really be a dampener for both inbound and domestic tourism. Liquor is something which foreign guests generally look for when b o o k i n g hotels and stays. We respect the honourable court’s decision which they might have taken after considering various parameters. My only submission is that the government should relook at its policy in a liberal way in the greater good of developing tourism in the country.
Mukesh Goel, Director, Oriental Travels
The Honorable Supreme Court’s order will have a direct impact on the tourism industry as the ban is applicable not only to liquor vendors but also to restaurants, hotels and resorts along the highway. It is imperative that the hospitality industry and tourism industry will bear the brunt of this decision as these industries cannot survive without alcohol. Both domestic and international traveller numbers will be impacted by this decision, which in the long run will be detrimental to tourism.
Rajesh Mudgil, MD, Planet India Travels
This decision has been taken without realising the impact it would have on the tourism industry. The person who filed this suit was only against liquor vends and shops on the highways, and not the restaurants and the hotels located there. Many hotel giants like The Leela Ambience Gurgaon or The Trident, Gurgaon, were built much before any such issues arose. Not everybody on the road goes to five star hotels. Most of them are in-house guests and those who utilise the services of these hotels are normally chauffeurdriven. The court should be clear in their mandate on what they mean in the jurisdiction.
Soma Mathew, Director of Sales & Marketing, Holiday Inn Cochin, India Travel Award winner
Though we all respect the law of the country and the decisions taken for the betterment of society, the liquor ban was not a healthy decision as tourism is one of the major industries that drives in business to the country. The rules and regulations for driving under influence of alcohol should be stricter. Banning or restricting people will not yield positive results. This move will hamper the overall business prospects and India’s loss will be someone else’s gain. Other countries are already catching up as popular MICE and leisure destination and these kind of restrictions will further spoil the prospects.
Raj Rana, Chief Executive Officer, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
This has wide ramifications and not only on the sales of beverages in the hotel. When we compare this to the international market, it is a complex issue. While I condemn drunk driving, there are better ways to address this issue. An arbitrary ban on legitimate businesses has affected sales and the return expected from investments that owners make in these properties. It will also have an impact on people working in these establishments. It is a difficult situation and we hope the voice of the hotel industry will be heard and a middle path will emerge.
Rohan Sable, Complex General Manager, Novotel Goa Resort & Spa, and The Novotel Goa Shrem Hotel, India Travel Award winner
We always talk about getting more people to travel to India and then we put such rules that deter inbound. People who want to do it, do it anyway but we need to start being more responsible. In Goa, 760 restaurants have been affected by this ban though it may be a boon for s o m e as people will go to other outlets to get their daily tipple. It will also have an impact on the jobs of people working in this business, especially those working at restaurants and hotels near the highways.
Neeraj Govil, Area Vice President – South Asia, Marriott International
Several of our hotels have been impacted by the ban on sale of liquor on highways by the honourable Supreme Court of India. We have got a copy of the judgment and we are working through the nuances it mentions to ensure that we are in compliance of the law. We also see an impact of this directive on our business especially on our properties in the tertiary markets in the country. We will work with the industry bodies to put forward our voice.
Kurt Straub, Vice President-Operations, Hyatt India Consultancy
It came as a big surprise to us and it’s quite amazing what is going on in the country. It does affect tourism for sure. Although not all of our hotels are affected, but in some locations it will have a big impact and it will be important to see how it plays out. At the end of the day, it’s a strange signal being sent out by the government and we would like this to be removed in some ways.