Kerala Tourism steps in houseboat operations to cut down on accidents

Published on : Tuesday, February 4, 2020

In the wake of several accidents involving houseboats, Kerala Tourism has decided to step in to regulate the craft operating in the backwaters, check environmental pollution caused by them, and ensure service standards, safety and security of the holidayers opting to cruise on them.


The move comes in the wake of the thinking among tourism planners that the department should have a major say and control of houseboat operations, as frequent incidents involving the ‘kettuvalloms’ were proving to be a setback to backwater tourism in the area.


At present, licence and fitness of the houseboats are certified by the Department of Ports and the pollution aspects are taken care by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board. Yet it is the Tourism department that gets all the brickbat from holidayers for any mishaps, when in reality it does not have any powers to carry out inspection or to intervene and stop unhealthy practices by the operators and the crew.


The department is now contemplating setting up a committee with members from the Department of Ports, Kerala Fire and Rescue Services, Tourism Police, and Kerala Tourism with legal backing to carry out inspection of the houseboats to ensure that the operators adhere to the safety and security standards, provide the prescribed service, and follow the rules notified.


The department wants to ensure that all houseboats have valid licence, fitness, insurance, including third party one, and a system for taking legal action against those flouting rules. Valid licence will be made mandatory for technical staff like boat drivers, shrank and laskar. Cook and hospitality staff deployed in houseboats will be provided adequate training.


Police clearance certificate for all the staff working in houseboats, health card for those handling food, and Food Safety Licence and registration for all houseboats have been mooted.


Uniform is also being planned for the personnel and so is a five-day annual training for cook and hospitality staff. Training by Fire and Rescue Service for all the personnel in the houseboats has also been suggested.


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