Recent boat tragedies spell doom to houseboat tourism in Kerala

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Malappuaram (Kerela), Nov 11 (ANI): The famous ferry queens plying on the backwaters of Kerala have failed to attract domestic and international tourists this year following the recent boat tragedies.

At least eight school students died when the boat in which they were sailing capsized in Malappuaram district on November 4. The accident occurred barely a month after state's worst tragedy on September 30, when a double-decker boat with tourists capsized in Thekkady Lake, claiming 45 lives.

For houseboat owners, this time of the year was regarded as peak season to earn all their extra income and save it for the forthcoming dull season but tourism is at a standstill and the boat workers are worried as how will they be able to eke out a living.

"The season has already started and by November it used to peak but this year it has not picked up yet. Mainly foreigners used to come at this period of time but now even north Indians and other domestic tourists are not willing to come here for cruising. And this is all because of the media reports on boat safety and they are scared now, which is affecting our business," T.P. Reji Kumar, owner of houseboats, Alleppey.

Out of 650 odd houseboats just less than 10 are getting daily business from pre-booked tour packages and rest have to wait at the boat itself for some one to check in.

Boat tragedies got extensive media coverage and now tourists as well as boat owners are concerned over the safety measures taken in boats across Kerala.

Boat owners say that even slashing down of fares is of no help this time.

"We have slashed the fare as compared to earlier years. Its one fourth of the previous fares but still no one seems to be interested in cruising. If this continues it will be difficult for all the owners to survive as they have spent lakhs in house boat tourisms industry.," said S. Baby, another houseboat owner, Alleppey.

Many of the boats and cruise vessels plying on the backwaters of Alleppey have taken huge investments to make these most luxurious ones and with that comes the daily expenses like wages and maintenance which, if the business is not running, may spell doom in the months to come. (ANI)

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