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Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 14 : 35 PM [IST]

Air of Despondency!

For the tourism industry in India, it has always been one step forward and two steps backward. When everything is seemingly going in the right direction for the country’s tourism, some mishap occurs, raising questions on the very legitimacy of the tourism-related industry in the country. For some strange reasons, aspersions are cast on it and the industry gets caught in the social, cultural and legal quagmire. If it was the order of restraining tourism activity in the core areas of national parks which threatened to wipe out the very existence of India’s niche wildlife tourism some years ago, today it is altogether different issue which is threatening to destroy the very fabric of Indian tourism and hospitality business.

The Apex Court order banning all kinds of liquor-based businesses on the 500-metre periphery of highways has struck hard the very core of leisure and entertainment business in the country. The adverse verdict has come at a time when the tourism and hospitality industry in the country was looking up after years of mediocre performance. While the issue of drunken driving and increasing accidents on Indian roads is a matter of concern for the society at large, the means to tackle that menace should not be haphazardly thought out to throttle a legitimate industry which offers lifeblood to both, the government and population in this country, in terms of innumerable tax revenues, and mass employment. Moralistic bans are never a solution for social issues. What is required is the right intent on the part of the government and its enforcement agencies to enforce the rule of law strictly and strongly on violators.

In a country where Prime Minister himself is the tourism brand ambassador who exudes youth to shun terrorism and embrace tourism, it is incumbent upon his government to knock some sense into people who pronounce strictures without understanding the value of a business and an industry to the country and its economy. But unfortunately, there is a calculated silence on the part of the powers that be on the issue, which can both be understood and construed as part of an ‘agenda’ or else to help some quarters amass money through corrupt means. It is time both the government and the industry should understand that in this age of extra judicial activism, sweeping issues under the carpet won’t work for long!

P Krishna Kumar
Bureau Chief, New Delhi
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