Published on : Friday, May 7, 2021
Kerala’s Alleppey houseboat owners’ association has marked May 1st, World Labor Day, as a ‘black day’. At Alappuzha finishing point, they hosted a major protest with an aim to draw attention to the financial misery encountered by them due to the lockdown situation and stringent COVID-19 restrictions in Kerala. This has impaired Kerala’s tourism and left many in the Kumarakom area in debt.
To quote Alleppey houseboat owners’ association president, A Anas, “The government should protect the tourism industry, save the houseboat market and all fines and fees associated with houseboats should be waived for the next two years.”
Kumarakom is well-known for its brackish lagoons and lakes, houseboats, vacation retreats, a bird sanctuary and fish, which attract many local as well as international tourists every year. The current crisis has impacted Kumarakom’s travel and tourism sector which is continuing for more than a year. As the state is experiencing a scary second wave of this virus infection, all activity in Kumarakom has got halted essentially.
With travel impacted majorly due to COVID-19, the entire economy of Kumarakom has been influenced. Locals are dependent on tourism and the drop in tourist numbers has hurt laborers and craftsmen as well, in addition to the resorts and cafés offering ethnic food in the area.
To quote Deepu, an agent with a local travel agency, “The administrators of the houseboats and shikara boats in the area are in hot water as they have large debts to repay.” All the 120 houseboats and 58 little boats that work out of Kumarakom have been moored for longer than a week at this point, he added.
“Practically all retreats have cut their rents to pull in travelers. In any case, only a few come, that too at the end of the week. On weekdays, resorts remain empty,” said Sebastian, who works in a resort.
After the restrictions of lockdown are eased, the Christmas and New Year season had welcomed few tourists streaming in; however once again with rising in infection cases, this has stopped. Locals in the area have explained that as many foreign and domestic enquiries had poured in Dec 2020, it was hardly enough to mitigate the losses from the first lockdown.
Tags: Kumarakom tourism