Kerala

‘Do not ruin this God-given gift’

Kovalam is ripe for a major overhaul. With just a few weeks remaining for the peak season, most of the sights greeting tourists at the beaches are unappealing. Count among them sunken walkways, broken tiles, rusted railings and lamp posts, piles of construction materials and fishing gear.

The 600-metre walkway to the Light House is in bad shape, posing high injury risk. Iron railings of pavements are missing in many places at the Light House end.

Waste water flows from restaurants and hotels to the Eve’s and the Light House beaches near Edakkal rocks. It is an eyesore and threat to tourists’ health. Around 150 metres of prime beach near Edakkal is being usurped by heaps of fishing gear and a line of boats.

‘Move with the times’

Susan Watts, a retired social worker from London, has been visiting the resort for 12 years. “It is a much acclaimed destination. See the broken and sunken tiles on pavements, the stray dogs. Streetlights are not functioning for the past one year. You have a God-given gift and you are not maintaining it properly. Kovalam has not moved with the times. You should learn from Sri Lanka,” she says.

Eateries have mushroomed, but Mrs. Watts say they close down at 10 p.m., which would not suit foreign nationals. “The food quality has gone down. Also, the cuisine is limited as the restaurants are run with skeletal staff to cut costs.”

Mohammed Latif from Srinagar, who runs a handicrafts shop on the Light House beach, says business is dull as foreign tourists are keeping away. “The rent has gone up. We are struggling.”

Saji Nanukuttan, who runs Shivas Tours and Travels, points out that cleanliness is a big issue for tourists. Privacy issues are preventing foreign tourists from venturing into the beaches. Most hotels and resorts are surviving by offering Ayurveda rejuvenation therapy, he adds .

₹20 crore allotted

Kerala Tourism is spending ₹20 crore this fiscal to upgrade infrastructure in Kovalam, says Tourism Director P. Bala Kiran. “The annual budget of Kerala Toursm is only ₹120 crore, out of which ₹20 crore has been given for the beach resort upgrade. This shows how important is Kovalam for us,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 11:19:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/do-not-ruin-this-god-given-gift/article29746519.ece

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