New Delhi: KJ Alphons, the new union minister for Tourism, has advised visitors to "eat beef in their own country" before travelling to India.
"They (tourists) can eat beef in their own country and come here yaar," Mr Alphons said on Thursday, responding to questions on whether the restriction on beef in several states would impact tourism.
He was speaking at a convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators in Bhubaneswar.
"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," Mr Alphons said in his introductory remarks.
The 64-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician from Kerala then confronted questions on incidents of cow vigilantism and restrictions on beef in several states and whether it would affect the hospitality sector.
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 told NDTV that the ruling BJP had "no food code" for states.
"In Goa, ruled by BJP, people continue to eat beef. Kerala will also continue to eat beef, BJP doesn't really have a problem with that," said the ex-bureaucrat dubbed Delhi's demolition man during his stint in Delhi's top civic planning agency.
Just three days later, his advice to foreigners appeared to strike a different note. When he was reminded of his earlier comments, he chuckled: "That is a cock and bull story...I am not the food minister...I am the minister for Tourism.