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‘Regressive’ highway liquor ban leaves a bad impression on expats, tourists in Gurgaon


The liquor ban around highways has left foreign visitors and expats in the city perplexed about why they can’t get a drink with their Sunday brunch or at business meetings.

Who took away the beer cans from the mini bar in our hotel room? Where are the exotic wines from the 5-star hotel’s bar menu? What will we offer guests from our home country? These are the questions that expats, foreign tourists and NRIs visiting Gurgaon are asking. Perplexed at the being denied even a glass of wine at hotels and restaurants, foreign tourists and NRIs on business trips are still trying to wrap their heads around the Supreme Court ban on liquor sale within 500m of national and state highways. Many expats living in the city have been hopping from one place to another after learning that they cannot have liquor with their Sunday brunches or business luncheons.

The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) has said that the ban on sale of liquor near highways will impact foreign tourists’ arrival and lead to job losses. FAITH also said that the ban will also affect the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) tourism segment. While it is still difficult for hotels to get an estimate of the losses they will incur in the long run if the ban continues, they are already feeling the heat as some foreign tourists are cutting short their vacations and business trips after learning about the liquor ban.
‘This rule sounds as bizarre as Trump’s policies’
Niqi Kundhi from the UK, who frequently comes to India for business, chose to stay at her favourite five star hotel in Gurgaon, which is close to the national highway. “I have been coming to India for business trips for the past 30 years, but what I am experiencing right now is totally ridiculous. I was suprised to know that there is no liquor in the mini bar of an expensive suite in a plush hotel because of some change in a rule overnight. I come here on business trips and I have business meetings in hotels where I have to entertain my business associates and clients with food and drinks, but I can’t even offer them a glass of wine now. None of us are alcoholics. People who I meet for business come with their drivers, they are not the ones who would drive after drinking,” says Niqi. She adds that this is one of the most “regressive and backward steps.” She says, “I have been on roads in India, and it is not the people who go to five star hotels and high-end restaurants who get drunk and drive. In fact, I have never seen anyone getting drunk in a five star hotel’s bar. What is wrong with someone having a drink in his/her hotel room before going to bed? This sounds as bizarre as Trump’s policies. I was sitting at a hotel’s bar with a few friends and there was not even a single bottle of wine or liquor on display. This visit to India is proving to be a disappointment, which is why I am planning to cut short my stay.”

‘Tourists visiting India will form a bad impression about the country’
Nakajima San, a resident of Sector 28 in Gurgaon, is the chairman of a hotel that caters to Japanese tourists. He has been staying in Gurgaon for the last 14 years and understands why the Supreme Court must have come up with this order. But he says that it is very difficult to explain this to tourists. “In terms of business, this rule has resulted in major losses. It is very difficult to explain to tourists the background of such an order, they go back with an impression that they can’t get a drink in India. In the long run, it will create a bad image of India among foreign tourists. Japanese tourists usually do not complain, but this is something that many of them would feel unhappy about,” he says.
‘Cyber Hub doesn’t look like a place to hang out these days’
Vince* is from Holland and is working as a consultant in the real estate sector in Gurgaon. Ever since he started staying in the city, he has known Cyber Hub as the place to hang out at and have meetings with business associates. But now, he says that it’s different. “Why would one go to a restaurant when they can’t have a drink of their choice? I may not drink, but there is no point in going to a restaurant when I can’t offer my guests a drink. Cyber Hub was not just a place where corporates would go to chill after a day’s work, but it was the place to hang out for everyone, and I can clearly see that changing now. I stayed in Delhi as well and I think nightlife in Delhi and Gurgaon wasn’t so great anyway, and this recent development just sucks,” he says.

Things are not different in Delhi either
Dasha Alexeeva from Russia stays in Malviya Nagar, in Delhi and was unaware of the ban till the time she went to a restaurant with her friends and was told by the staff that “they can’t be served alcohol as the sale of liquor has been stopped for some time.” She says, “This was a place in South Delhi, and I was with a few friends who wanted to have a drink. We had the option to look out for another place when the restaurant staff told us that they can’t serve us liquor, but then it was too late. There are so many things that one has to already keep in mind when he/she decides to go out in Delhi. Now, if this liquor ban continues, I wonder what will be the options left for someone who just wants to go out to have a drink, eat and chill. I don’t think that a person will stop drinking if restaurants and hotels are not be allowed to serve liquor. If someone wants to drink, he/she will find ways to get one.” Anastasia Apostolidou is from Greece and has been staying in Saket since the past one-and-a-half years. To her, the news of the ban “didn’t sound like something that’s definitely going to be there”. She says, “I thought this is some probability that people are talking about as this is so sad to be true. I think people fail to realize that everyone works hard and wants to have a drink and feel good after a day’s work. I don’t really know where to take my friends if they are visiting India. The ban is really sad, to say the least.”

Source: Times of India


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