Liquor ban: Many Biharis headed abroad to welcome New Year
Consuming, keeping or dealing in liquor is an offence under Bihar’s prohibition law, which provides for imprisonment up to 10 yearsUpdated: Dec 09, 2017 17:33 IST
Blame it on liquor ban, many Biharis are foreign-bound to welcome the New Year.
If travel planners are to be believed, Pattaya beach and Phuket in Thailand, Waiotapu, the park with geothermal activities in New Zealand, and the desert village in Dubai are among most sought after destinations for Bachhus lover Biharis to spend the year-end.
Even beach destinations of the country, like Kovalam in Kerala or Anjuna in Goa, could witness a large crowd from the dry state celebrating Christmas and New Year, tour operators say.
Top city operators, who admitted to low bookings last year, said there was a huge spike in registrations for travel this year with one estimate putting registrations for tours abroad at around 1,200 already, with two weeks still to go. Last year, there were not more than 700 bookings with the top ten travel agents in the capital.
Bihar became a dry state on April 5, last year. Consuming, keeping or dealing in liquor is an offence under the state’s new prohibition law, which provides for imprisonment up to 10 years.
UN Mishra, who runs Jatak Travels in Patna, said people seemed desperate to go out of the dry state. “Due to total prohibition, many plan frequent trips to Ranchi in Jharkhand or Kolkata in West Bengal for their fill,” he said.
“Winter vacation is just an extension of this mood and the people don’t want to miss this opportunity. We are happy that it (liquor ban) has given a new lease of life to the state’s travel trade which had crashed after demonetisation in November last year and ruined travel businesses. My bookings were pathetic last year at around 20, which has now increased to 90 already for all destinations, with more expected by last week this month,” Mishra said.
He said, post-prohibition and demonetisation, tour seekers, who numbered in dozens earlier, had now jumped to hundreds, while LTA ( leave travel allowance) travellers , mainly from banks and PSUs, had also added to the throng.
Sanjeev Kumar, who runs Mamta Tours and Travels in the state capital, said Bangkok and Macau attracted more Biharis because their casinos offered gambling facility along with free meal and liquor. “Many are also preparing to touch base in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, which offer visa on arrival and star cruise trips along with free meal and liquor. After all, people want to relax and get rejuvenated,” he said
Interestingly, some 300 families are Bangkok bound already.
“The reason is simple. To spend five nights in Bangkok one has to spend hardly Rs 30,000 even during the peak tourism season. In Goa and Kerala, the trip may cost you more than Rs 35,000. Also, a host of low cost hotels are available in Bangkok, while in Goa the hotel tariff generally shoots up during Christmas,” Shailesh Kumar of Almania Travels said. Shailesh Kumar said he had already booked 55 tours, mostly families, which was a spike of 45% over the figures in 2016.