Thiruvananthapuram: Days after Britain and the US issued travel advisories asking their citizens travellinh to Kerala to be vigilant about the Sabarimala temple row, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has admitted that the state’s tourism sector has received a heavy blow due to the incessant protests.
The CM, while addressing the public in Thiruvananthapuram, said that hartals have become a regular phenomenon in Kerala, rather than being the last resort of protests. He also suspected if hartals solely target the tourism industry.
In an advice issued by the Foreign Office in the UK, tourists are warned to “monitor media reports closely, remain vigilant and avoid large public gatherings.”
Taking into account the overall wellbeing of Kerala tourism in early 2018, the Chief Minister has wished the sector an exemption from shutdowns just like essential services such as milk distribution, newspaper and hospitals are allowed to function.
The shutdowns are a twofold blow to the trouble-hit tourism sector recuperating from a huge revenue loss following the 2018 floods.
A fresh ruling of the Kerala High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, came hours before the latest 48-hour general strike called by the various trade unions, mandates issuing a seven-day notice before calling out for a hartal. Flash hartals were termed ‘unconstitutional’.
The ruling came on a Public Interest Litigation petition filed by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The protestors vandalised from shops and commercial establishments to a national bank in the two-day nation-wide strike, defying warning issued by authorities.
Public transport was the worst hit in Kerala as the state-run Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses remained off the road. Train services got disrupted as protestors created a blockade and staged sit-in protests. Unforeseen delay in train timings came as a double blow to the passengers. Educational institutions remained closed and private offices, government and public sector undertakings had a thin attendance on both days.
In a state that witnessed 97 hartals in 2018, suffered three shutdown in the first 10 days of 2019. Estimates show that each hartal contributes a loss of Rs 200 crores.