In a move that could spell much relief for tourists arriving in Alappuzha, rates of houseboats here will soon be made uniform, with standardization of rates to depend on facilities offered and not as per whims and fancies of operators. Moreover, a prepaid counter that will ensure adherence to stipulated tariffs will also be opened at the houseboat terminal at the Punnamada Finishing Point.
According to official sources, a closed-door meeting between District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) officials, police, houseboat owners and operators and hotel/home-stay/resort representatives held here on Wednesday resulted in a consensus that houseboat tariffs had to be standardized to prevent the prevalent unabated fleecing of tourists.
Once houseboat operators decided upon the rates depending on the facilities they offered, houseboats would be registered with the DTPC so that tourists could pay at a prepaid counter. This is expected to put an end to the irrational bargaining in which tourists had to engage in all these years.
The police will also ask illegal guides, who are currently moving about with unauthorized identity cards, to surrender these cards within a week, failing which they will face legal action. The stretch from the YMCA to the KSRTC depot will be patrolled by police to nab these self-styled guides.
“The police have already identified 23 such guides and another 10 are also moving around, fleecing tourists. Some of these have shady backgrounds with a few even being murder accused goons. Once they are reined in, a training programme to ensure trained guides will be launched,” a senior official told The Hindu.
While these decisions are expected to be implemented by November, the DTPC is making efforts to spruce up the Tourist Centre at the Finishing Point. A restroom, cafeteria, shopping stalls, ATM counters, money transfer facilities, a tourism help desk, a police complaint box and beat book are among those to be installed here.
The police will also shortly launch a drive against illegal home-stays and resorts that are charging exorbitant rates from tourists.