Kerala

Houseboats to explore new waters

Rides will begin on the Thottappally-Kochi stretch from October

The Inland Waterways Authority of India’s (IWAI) keenness to throw open to traffic the under-utilised Kollam-Kottapuram National Waterway III, and the boat terminals en route, has got a shot in the arm with houseboat rides set to begin on the Thottappally-Kochi stretch from October.

The houseboats will ply the hitherto unexplored 90-km stretch, pioneering a leisurely, week-long cruise along the waterbody for guests who want to experience village life in all its splendour.

A cruise tour operator conducted two trial runs on the corridor in January, said a senior IWAI official.

“The stretch has ample width and depth and is safe for barges weighing up to 500 tonnes. The houseboat operator will have to pay a nominal fee for using the waterway and the terminals,” he said.

The plans

Though the trial run, with guests on board a two-bedroom houseboat, was completed in four days, the tour can be extended to a week.

“Our aim is to take guests to laid-back villages on either side of the waterbody, where they can engage in fishing, coir-making and other activities alongside local people. They can also check out temples and churches in the villages and savour local food. It will be experiential tourism, catering to the discerning tourist. Marketing has already begun for the launch which will coincide with the beginning of tourist season in Kerala,” said a stakeholder associated with the impending tour.

New destinations

The tour will cover places such as Pulinkunnu, Kavalam, interiors of Cherthala, and Vaikom.

The new stretch could in the long run decongest Alappuzha and Kumarakom, where proliferation of houseboats is leading to pollution of waterbodies.

The IWAI had announced its willingness to permit tourist vessels to operate along NW III over five years ago, since there were few takers to transport cargo in bulk through the corridor though the State government had announced a subsidy for ferrying cargo.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 9:31:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/houseboats-to-explore-new-waters/article26226620.ece

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