Kumarakom: The pandemic has created a huge setback for the tourism sector of Kumarakom, easily one of the most popular backwater tourist destinations in the world. Considering the pandemic has been going on for a year and is currently witnessing a horrifying second wave, the tourism sector has practically come to a standstill.
In the tourism industry, the only ray of hope was backwater tourism and currently, even that is practically down and out. Interestingly in the past few months, tourists from Kerala had played a major role in increasing the cash flow in the tourism industry.
Post the lockdown and Covid restrictions the Christmas-New Year season had also seen a decent flow of foreign tourists into this part of the world. But with the rising Covid cases, foreign tourists have stopped coming.
The resorts and hotels that had prepared themselves to welcome foreign tourists this season are in for a shock when over 78 bookings were cancelled in the last two days. This, despite offering huge discounts in room tariff rates. There are over 120 houseboats at Kumarakom. When they had removed some of the restrictions earlier this year, it looked like these houseboats will have some occupancy after all. This year a mere 10 houseboats were rented. It is said that only on Vishu day alone the houseboat industry has suffered a loss of over 15 lakhs.
The operators of the houseboats and small-sized shikara boats are also in serious trouble as they have huge bank loans to repay. All the 120 houseboats and 58 small boats that operate out of Kumarakom have been docked for over a week now. It doesn’t help that the locals are primarily dependent on tourism and this has affected the workers and artisans enlisted in the village life packages, restaurants offering ethnic cuisine, and the local transport operators a sharp fall in daily income.