KERALA

Tourism season brings good tidings in Alappuzha

Dennis Marcus Mathew

Industry is confident that the season will peak by December

ALAPPUZHA: Finally, ‘Tourism 2007-08’ is on for Alappuzha. The chikungunya scare, heavy rain and bad roads had threatened to spoil the party for the picturesque backwater location this year. A resultant sluggish start to the season only added to the nightmares of the local industry.

With a disappointing October over and a November that revived hopes drawing to an end, the industry is brimming with confidence to take on December, which it says will be the peak of this year’s tourist season.

“Backwater tourism began late this year. Last year, the season began in August, dimmed after the chikungunya outbreak, and picked up again later. This year, the rain delayed the season slightly, but things are now picking up and fast,” says Jose Mathew, managing director, Rainbow Cruises.

More enquiries

“We have had tourists from America, France and Australia already and there are more enquiries every day,” he says, adding that, however, the domestic tourist has been slightly reluctant to head this way so far.

Domestic tourism dim

“Domestic tourism has been dim this year. That can be because of the advent of several affordable packages to Singapore and other areas. A three-day trip to Hong Kong costs only Rs.15,000,” he reasons.

Jacob Thomas Thevarcad, Partner, River & Country Tours, feels that it is the bad roads that discouraged the domestic tourist.

“For us, the season usually starts in October. But, perhaps because of the bad roads and the rain, it started late and there were lot of cancellations in November. But it is improving now. Our bookings for December are tight,” he adds.

A stroll near Punnamada Finishing Point, unofficial harbour of houseboats here, at around 10.30 a.m. and at around 4.30 p.m. will explain their point. Tourists, mainly foreigners, can be seen checking in and out, and that too in large groups.

Feel-good factor

Erine Louis, general manager of the Marari Beach Resort at Mararikulam, also agrees: “The season is looking very bright, positive and yes, there is a feel-good factor.”

“October was not so bright compared to last year. There was no energy at all. But November has seen the season picking up steadily. In fact, at Marari Beach, we are almost full until March. And remember, we have no domestic tourists at Marari. All our guests are foreigners,” he says.

“We need to make domestic tourism stronger. Better packages and better infrastructure are required. We also need to improve ways for local people to benefit from tourism, only then will it become an industry that benefits everybody,” he says, adding that the future of tourism here will hinge on the home stay concept.

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