Houseboats Resume Operation For Tourists In Southern India Despite Rising Covid-19 Numbers

(Representative image) Houseboat tourism has resumed in Kerala's Kumarakom more than one and a half years since it shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. (Abhishek Prasad/Unsplash)

KOTTAYAM, India — Southern Indian state Kerala’s Kumarakom has resumed its houseboat tourism after a gap of more than one and a half years since it was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Kumarakom is a village on Vembanad Lake in the backwaters of Kerala, southern India. It is laced with canals, where houseboats ply the waters.

The decision was taken after the transport authority of the Government of Kerala permitted the operation of the houseboats, said sources.

Kumarakom is famed for its lakes and rivulets with houseboats and is one of Kerala’s most sought-after tourism destinations.

“The tourism sector has restarted now. However, only a few tourists have been coming. We hope that the sector makes a recovery after being hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic for over a year,” said Sabumon Kalarikkal, owner of a houseboat.

In an effort to provide a safe environment to the tourists, most workers and employers at these houseboats have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Shiju S., a staff member on the houseboat, said that “they have both the doses of Covid-19 vaccines”.

Following the steep surge, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayai Vijayan on Aug. 31 announced that RTPCR tests will be conducted in six districts of the state. It is also noteworthy that the districts included -Waynad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki, and Kasaragod— have completed close to 80 percent vaccination.

“When distributing vaccines to districts, adjustments should be made to provide more vaccines to the relatively low vaccination districts,” he said.

“The district authorities should also take care to allot vaccines to local self-government institutions proportionately.”

Three Indians from Kerala were tested positive for Covid-19 after returning to India from Wuhan- the epicenter of the virus that has infected over 90 thousand people, as per reports by Statista.

Wuhan has been a popular destination among civilians in Kerala for its quality and affordable medical education.

The decision to resume houseboat services comes even as Kerala reports the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country. As per the state health department bulletin, Kerala reported 30,203 new Covid-19 cases and 115 deaths on Aug. 31.

During 2019, the maximum number of foreign tourists arrived in January followed by December, as per reports.

The maximum number of foreign tourists arrived during the 1st quarter of the year 2019, constituting 35.51 percent with 422,469 tourists, followed by the 4th quarter comprising 31.08 percent with 369,796 tourists, the 3rd quarter forming 18.09 percent with 215,186 tourists, and the 2nd quarter constituting 15.32 percent with 182,320 tourists.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra

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