NEW DELHI: KJ Alphons, the new Tourism Minister, has advised visitors to “eat beef in their own countries” before travelling to India, just three days after asserting that there is “no food code” for states and beef will continue in states like Kerala and Goa.
On Thursday, the minister confronted questions about the impact on Indian tourism of recent incidents of cow vigilantism and the tight restrictions on beef in several states.
“They (tourists) can eat beef in their own country and come here yaar,” Mr Alphons quipped, replying to reporters on the sidelines of a convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators in Bhubaneswar.
On Monday, a day after he was sworn in as one of the new ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, Mr Alphons had dismissed concerns over beef restrictions as “propaganda” against the BJP and said: “I don’t think the BJP prescribes a food code for every state… like the Chief Minister of Goa has made very clear that Goa is a beef-eating state and Goa shall continue to be a beef-eating state… Kerala is a beef-eating state and it shall continue to eat beef… that is what people eat there and BJP doesn’t have a problem.”
Both Goa and Kerala are among the most popular destinations for foreign tourists.
When reporters reminded him of his earlier statement, Mr Alphons chuckled: “That is a cock-and-bull story…I am not the food minister, I am the minister for Tourism.”
Speaking on his new role, the 64-year-old former bureaucrat said his ministry has called for innovative ideas to promote tourism.
“India is the oldest civilization. The whole world should come and see us. We have to love our history and our country…We have to tell them, look here, this is a beautiful country,” said Mr Alphons, who was nicknamed Delhi’s “demolition man” for his drive against illegal buildings during his stint at the main planning agency of the capital.