Trips will take more time, won’t be a smooth affair

: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s promise to operate passenger ships linking minor ports across Kerala coast would not be a viable option in economic terms, feel experts. Though the newly launched Coastal Shipping Project would be a cost-effective cargo handling option, they feel passenger ships linking ports in the State would not get sufficient travellers.

In India, passenger ships are being operated successfully only between the mainland and island groups such as Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep. “Travelling in passenger ships would not be a smooth affair as projected. A ship from Kollam to Kochi would take more than eight hours and the day temperature would be high. Those who are keen to travel in a ship at least once in lifetime may try it. No normal passenger can opt for this as better road and rail alternatives are available,” says V.K. Raju, company secretary of Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation.

According to him, Chief Minister’s promise of strengthening inland navigation would attract more visitors, including foreign tourists. People can take in the natural beauty of the backwaters, rivers, and canals of the State, he said. “Coastal cargo ships can get better revenue if operated between ports. But passenger ships would not be a viable option. Cruise ships are of a different nature and normal passenger ships offer nothing,” says V.S. Kartha of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Travel and tourism operators also feel the State can benefit by operating better boats and carriages on the backwaters. “Even the rustic transport boats in Kuttanad are attracting a large number of foreign tourists. They are economical though the comfort level remains less. Well-managed transport boats can attract both passengers and tourists. The focus must be on inland navigation,” says Sumesh Mangalassery, who works with tourism NGO ‘Kabani - the other direction’.

  • ‘Coastal cargo ships a better option’

  • ‘Better boats on backwaters will attract tourists’