Friday 14 December 2018

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Mixed reactions over reduced liquor sale timing

 

The Goa government’s reduction in timings for retail sellers of packaged liquor, bars and restaurants has invited mixed reaction from the tourism and hospitality sectors ahead of the new tourism season.

The retail liquor vendors will be allowed to keep their shops open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., while bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve liquor till 1 a.m. and not up to 5 a.m., as per the new notification issued by the Goa government.

While tourism stakeholders led by Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) have welcomed the change in timings from the night-time security point of view, the clubs and bars have began to protest that night-life as part of the tourism industry would be hit adversely by these regulations.

Gaurish Dhond of TTAG told The Hindu on Monday they welcome the move as it would bring relief to complaints about nuisance from tourists who are allowed to drink at such outlets and then enter restaurants and night clubs and create problems for other tourists.

Earlier, retail liquor vendors were allowed to keep their shops open up to 11 p.m., after paying the 50 per cent surcharge of the licence fee. To stay open up to 1 a.m., restaurants and bars will have to avail of a special licence said the Excise Commissioner. However, all starred hotels and “A” category hotels will continue to serve liquor up to 5 a.m., by paying a lump-sum surcharge of Rs. 5 lakh in addition to the annual licence fee.

Excise Commissioner Menino D’Souza said a lot of complaints were received about drinking in open public areas at night in the tourist State.

Complaints had also increased about customers who purchase liquor bottles from retail vendors, drink it in the open and throw the bottles out in the night besides creating nuisance by urinating in public, say sources in the Excise Department.

Mr. D’Souza said they were also receiving complaints from the tourism industry on safety concerns as often groups of tourists run riot on the beaches after drinking alcohol at night. “We hope to curb this kind of problems (through the time revision),” he said.

At the same time, he sought to clarify that existing retail liquor vendors and the bars and restaurants who had been granted licences would be allowed to function until the end of the current financial year. They will, however, have to adhere to the new rules from April 1, 2014.

Those applying for new licences for retail liquor sale during the current financial year will be issued licences as per the new regulations. All retail liquor vendors who had obtained licences to keep their shops till 11 p.m. by paying 50 per cent surcharge would be allowed to do so till the end of the current financial year.

There are 1,743 retail liquor vendors across the State and the excise department has begun the exercise to know how many of them had obtained licences by paying 50 per cent surcharge to keep their shops up to 11 p.m.

The tourist State also has 7,079 consumption licences, which includes hotels in four categories, 178 tavernas and 214 wholesale distributors. The majority of liquor establishments happen to be in Salcete taluk of south Goa and Bardez taluk of north Goa, predominantly the tourism belts.

With the revision of timings for various category of liquor licences having been notified on Thursday, the government is now poised to visit the embargo placed in May this year on issue of new liquor licences, the Excise Commissioner said.

Original Report






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