Kochi

Tourism stakeholders of West Kochi upbeat about November 1 reopening

A man jogs on the closed Fort Kochi beach on Friday. Streets in the tourist locale remain deserted despite the onset of the tourist season.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The famed heritage streets of Fort Kochi and the beach front, which used to teem with foreign and domestic tourists in the October-February tourist season, presents a striking contrast now, with street dogs literally outnumbering the few local residents who venture out once in a while.

Similar is the case with most other tourist locales in West Kochi, be it heritage areas in neighbouring Mattancherry or even Kumbalanghi, hailed as India’s first model tourism village. But stakeholders are hopeful that the situation will improve when the State government permits regulated entry into beach destinations from November 1.

One among the founders of Clean Fort Kochi Foundation, David Lawrence, who also owns a homestay in the heritage zone, said residents and tourism stakeholders were dismayed at streets remaining deserted despite the onset of the tourist season. “Of course, entry to the beach has been temporarily curbed, with Section 144 in vogue to prevent crowding. This has been the situation in the high-in-demand locale since mid-March when the lockdown was announced. The government must urgently repair the beach walkway which is in ruins due to sea erosion,” he added.

He attributed the proliferation of street dogs in the area to people who regularly feed them, and the often uncleared garbage. “Our foundation used to clean the beach and streets every week, with the assistance of four daily-wage workers. In addition, a team of 20 workers engaged by the Ernakulam DTPC and Fort Kochi Heritage Conservation Society are duty-bound to ensure cleanliness of the premises every day. Sadly, this has not been happening, mainly due to slack supervision.”

The silver lining is that Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML) is relaying roads and building drains in an effective manner, despite opposition from a few quarters, including encroachers. Subsequently, streets do not get flooded, and rain water does not enter low-lying buildings. Tourists can be assured of good roads and pavements this time, Mr. Lawrence said.

Kumbalanghi

Kumbalanghi, located on the other end of West Kochi, has its own share of problems, including a spike in COVID-19 cases. “This could be because physical distancing is seldom maintained, especially in tea shops and public transport. People can often be seen wearing face masks on the lower jaw. However, life is going on as usual in the area, but for almost nil inflow of tourists,” said M.P. Sivadattan, former president of Kumbalanghi panchayat and director of Kerala Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society.

Sometimes, guests visit homestays and other properties in the village to unwind and enjoy ethnic dishes. They do not opt to stay overnight though. Most operators of homestays, which have elderly people or kids, are not entertaining guests. On their part, the Kerala Tourism and the Responsible Tourism Mission are proactively doing their part, hosting webinars and numerous other activities to woo discerning tourists interested in experiential tourism that Kumbalanghi is famous for. Tour packages are being readied keeping them in mind, he added.

People who erected Chinese nets in the area are happy at the phased removal of around 1,000 unauthorised nets which affected the livelihood of a few hundred traditional fishermen in the area. Around 300 nets have already been removed, it is learnt.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 11:47:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/tourism-stakeholders-of-west-kochi-upbeat-about-november-1-reopening/article32933367.ece

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