When foreign and domestic tourists are flocking to Alappuzha to cruise along Kerala’s famed backwaters, Eloor municipality is trying to grab its share of the tourism pie.
The municipality, in its latest budget, has proposed to develop ‘river ship’ cruises along Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals.
As per the proposal, river ships and luxury ships small enough to sail through rivers and backwaters could move along the canals, stopping at various points to give tourists a taste of local cuisine and culture. The municipality hopes to model the project on river cruises along the Ganga. Like the houseboats of Alappuzha and Kottayam, river ships could offer a complete tour of the locality along the canals.
According to a concept paper presented as part of the municipality budget, river ships trump houseboats as they are less vulnerable to fires. Several cases of fire on houseboats in Alappuzha have raised concern among tourists about the safety of the traditional vessel. River ships, according to the concept paper, have “in-built fire fighting mechanisms of international standards.”
During peak season, Alappuzha’s backwaters are choked with tourist houseboats. The Tourism Department has been stressing on the need to develop other tourist spots.
“The backwaters in Ernakulam don’t get many visitors. But they are just as beautiful as those in Kuttanad, if not more beautiful,” said Eloor municipal chairperson Joseph Antony. Eloor was close to the international airport and suited to tourism, said Mr. Antony.
The project is still at the concept stage and the municipality hopes for funds from the Tourism Department once the detailed project report is complete. However, much needs to be done to build the infrastructure before such a project becomes reality. Few boats currently ply on the route and the Eloor jetty is ill-equipped to handle heavy tourist traffic.
“If the project takes off, it will create a lot of jobs in this area,” said Mr. Antony.