Hartal upsets tour plans of Emerging Kerala delegates

Kerala hit the nadir a day after the summit high, thanks to the dawn-to-dusk hartal that forced everybody indoors, including the investors who had packed their bags for a jaunt.

The hartal on Saturday, to an extent, undid the attempt for an image makeover through the three-day Emerging Kerala summit that wooed investors to the State. While delegates from other parts of the country are used to occasional general strikes, the international delegates were not amused by the protest that paused life for a day.

The hartal upended the travel plans of many delegates and visitors to the city. Some hurried to escape strike while others postponed their trips to be away from roads during the shutdown.

A few agencies engaged to arrange trips for delegates said many visitors had to drop sight-seeing and shopping plans. Some of the delegates were confined to their hotel rooms all day as the strike scuppered their plan for a whirlwind tour of the city before catching their flight back home.

Tour operators who had arranged special weekend packages to Alapuzzha, Munnar, Thekkady, and Kovalam for the delegates too suffered a setback. An official of one of the tour operating firms said on condition of anonymity that his firm lost about 40 per cent of bookings by delegates because of hartal.

In some cases, tour operators incurred loss as they had to arrange an extra day’s accommodation from their pocket for visitors who were set to wrap up their tour on Saturday, he said.

Rajesh Madan, general manager of Le Meridien Hotel that hosted the summit, said no delegate was stranded because of the hartal. Most of the international delegates had left on Friday evening itself while others left early Saturday morning. Since most of the international flights are scheduled between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. delegates managed to make it to the airport before hartal kicked in.

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