State Affairs

Sri Lanka ready to encroach on Kerala’s tourism

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Even as all the bars in Kerala get ready to shut down from September 12, there is a fear that the hospitality business in the neighbouring Sri Lanka is getting ready to steal a march over Kerala’s Rs 22,000-crore tourism business.

The new liquor policy that is guiding the state towards total prohibition has started giving hiccups to the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) industry already. “Is it true that beach-bashes or a lake cruise may end up having to impress an alcohol-detector cop?” asked a recent email sent to a nervous travel agent. There are apprehensions that those who had made bookings early may ask compensation for breach of contract.

Sri Lanka, which enjoys less than a-third of the annual revenue of Kerala tourism, could come up as the major competitor, in terms of foreign tourists. Last year, over 10 million domestic tourists and 8 lakh foreigners visited Kerala. In a strong bid to emerge as a tourism hub, Sri Lanka has been adding to the number of beer pubs and bars to create a so-called European ambience and wean away tourists.

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