Hartal on World Tourism Day sparks resentment in Kerala

Hartal in support of Bharat Bandh on World Tourism Day sparks resentment in Kerala

Unlike many other states, hartals often invoke much support in Kerala with life being badly hit

View of closed shops infront of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple during Bhrat Bandh called by the farmers organisations against central governments three farm reforms laws, in Thiruvananthapuram. Credit: PTI Photo

As normal life in Kerala was affected on Monday with the ruling left-front and opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front observing dawn to dusk hartal in support of the Bharat Bandh of farmers organisations, the political leadership is being widely flayed for observing a hartal on the World Tourism Day.

Kerala tourism has been initiating a series of initiatives like caravan tourism that offers luxury caravans to tourists as part of its efforts to revive the sector that was hit by back-to-back calamities, Nipah and Covid over the last few years. But a hartal that brings the state to a standstill would be sending a bad impression about the state, lamented those in the hospitality sector.

Unlike many other states, hartals often invoke much support in Kerala with life being badly hit. On Monday also public transport services remained off roads and shops and commercial enterprises remained closed. Though political leadership announced exemption to tourism sector from hartal, the ground reality said otherwise.

Read | Bharat Bandh disrupts lives in pockets, roads blocked

Around 100 hartals, including local and state-wide, were observed in the Kerala annually over the last several years.

Abraham George, former president of the Kerala Travel Mart Society, said that it was unfortunate that it was a hartal in Kerala on the World Tourism Day. It would send wrong message especially when efforts were made to revive the sector. Most tourists plan vacations much in advance and hence the hartals would torpedo their plans.

Resentment of the people towards hartals has also triggered a strong campaign against the state political leadership on the social media. Many accused that while the world was celebrating the day of travel, in Kerala the political leadership was curtailing people's freedom of movement.

A tourism department official pointed out that during time of recent election campaign the political parties in Kerala decided to keep off from nationwide stirs as part of the farmer's stir. But no such consideration was shown to the tourism industry while observing a hartal on the World Tourism Day.

Even as the Kerala High Court disposed of a petition challenging the hartal considering the state government's submission that adequate permission would be ensured to those who do not want to join the stir, on Monday hartal supporters even ransacked a private office in Kerala for functioning on hartal.

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