KOCHI: Ernakulam district, Kerala’s most popular travel destination, will soon reach out to more people with ‘barrier-free’ destinations providing easy access to differently-abled travellers to the tourist hotspots here.
The seven destinations in the district set to get the barrier free-advantage are Fort Kochi; Ernakulam boat jetty complex; Kuzhupilly, Cherai and Munambam beaches; Bhottathankettu and Prakrithi Gramam Park at Ezhattumugham.
The initiative was launched in 2017 with Rs 9 crore set aside for the state, and Rs 44 lakh sanctioned by the government for destinations in Ernakulam. In the initial phase, it was decided to give 100 locations the barrier-free makeover this year. The project was first implemented in Kannur when present Tourism Director P Bala Kiran was the District Collector there. The project was implemented through 13 DTPCs and District Nirmithi Kendra, Kannur.
“The tourism department recently gave the final clearance for the project,” said S Vijaykumar, Secretary DTPC Ernakulam. “The construction work will be initiated in a month’s time. We expect to complete the work within a few months. Other tourism destinations will also be soon become under the barrier-free project.”
According to Tourism Department data, around three per cent of tourists - domestic and foreign - arriving in Kerala were differently-abled. Similarly, around 10 per cent tourists are senior citizens. A majority of tourist destinations are not accessible to them. In 2017, 1.46 crore tourists visited the state, compared to 1.31 crore in 2016. The total revenue from tourism sector was around Rs 33,383.68 crore.