As the backlash to the recently proposed alcohol ban continues to grow, the government takes a step back and eases the grip with a series of amendments, including changes that allow businesses to work on already existing licenses.
Members of the public and business circles have continued to express their anger against a government proposal to severely restrict alcohol sales amid government suggestions today that they would be willing to soften the bill.
The ban proposal, which would severely restrict the production and sale of alcohol, has irked companies and businesses owners due to the threat it poses to profits, prompting companies like Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company, to express their worries.
The Association of Tourism, Restaurant Investors and Managers (TURYİD) also released a statement on the proposal, accusing officials of “conjuring up a fear of alcoholism that does not exist.”
The statement said the move “would bring many workplaces close to shutting down, as well as lowering the standards expected by local and foreign customers alike.”
TURYİD said the estimated cost of the proposal would be fatal to the $50 billion tourism sector, cause “irreversible damage” to the country’s image abroad, “dissuade local and foreign investors, and destroy chances of growth and credibility.”
“We believe that it is necessary, and still possible, for officials to ask for contributions and opinions of the sector’s representatives before accepting – and even proposing – such a drastic change that would have an impact on the Turkey’s economically massive eating and drinking sector,” the statement read.
The initial proposal was set to make serving alcohol impossible in any of the city’s main entertainment locations, with its vague definition of “educational institution” and large number of mosques. The alterations, however, redefine “educational institutions” according to a narrower list, excluding owners who have previously gained alcohol licenses as well as certified tourism establishments.
Antalya, Bodrum, Çeşme and similar areas popular with tourists have also been exempted from the regulations, as well as Istanbul locations such as İstiklal Caddesi and Ortaköy.
The law has also been rearranged in order to temper the advertising ban of alcoholic drinks, allowing brands to participate in business fairs. The name of the production company has also been left out of the ban list, blocking only the promotion of specific alcoholic brands rather than the entire umbrella company.
Alcoholic drinks will be able to benefit sales and promotions, but will not be permitted to be given away as gifts or for free as part of campaigning, according to the changes. Companies will still be banned from selling alcohol via television, the telephone or the Internet.
The original proposal, which called for the covering of windows of locations serving alcohol in a severe attempt to block any view of the drinks from the outside, was also softened as result of the changes, allowing business owners to avoid breaking the law by rearranging their products in the shop windows.
The regulation that banned restaurants from serving alcohol in their outdoor sections has also been altered, allowing establishments that already hold licenses to continue serving as before.
The sub-commission that was responsible for altering the original proposal will continue debating until next Tuesday, when the bill will be passed on to the Planning and Budget Commission. The bill will then be sent on to the General Assembly.