Kovalam, Varkala beaches face neglect

Though the state has reopened tourist destinations with much hype, business is yet to pick up at major beaches 

Published: 03rd November 2021 07:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd November 2021 07:00 AM   |  A+A-

The broken sewer line discharging waste into the Light House Beach. The pipes laid underneath were damaged by severe sea erosion | B P Deepu

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: According to tourism experts, the flow of domestic travellers from other states is still low at both beach destinations in the district — Kovalam and Varkala. The huge flight fares and lack of promotion have dented the prospects of attracting tourists to the spots. 

Kovalam beach, an iconic tourist destination, is yet to return to its pre-Covid glory after the cyclones and persistent rough waves inflicted heavy damage. The Pooja and ongoing Deepavali holidays, when the spot is usually filled with interdistrict travellers, have been quite dull this year. According to experts, the business will only pick up if the government ensures the safety and privacy of tourists. 

“The number of Covid cases is still high in Kerala. Travellers from other states are not preferring Kerala because of this. Tourists are avoiding Kovalam because there is no privacy or basic amenities. Flight fares from other states to Thiruvananthapuram are high. Even after a month of staying open, we are only doing 20 to 25 per cent of the business we used to. Travellers prefer the Kochi-Munnar-Thekkady-Kochi package over Thiruvavnanthapuram due to the flight fares,” said Association of Tourism Trade Organisations India (ATTOI) secretary Manu P V. 

He said that most visitors at Kovalam now are Malayalis. “Kovalam needs a total revamp and the timing is dealing a huge blow to those in the sector. There is no night tourism. No activities post 7 pm. Beaches in Goa host midnight parties and wedding ceremonies. Here, the restrictions keep us from making our beaches tourism friendly. Right now, we only have people reaching here on weekends and that won’t help,” said Manu. 

The post on which warning sign and CCTV security camera were installed
at Kovalam uprooted owing to severe sea erosion

For the traders as been no business after foreigners stopped coming. “I have been running this shop for the past three years. A major share of our customers used to be foreign tourists. Now, there is a rush of visitors from the state during weekends, but no sale is happening,” said Sarath Sisupalan, who runs a small shop near the Light House Beach. 

Rasheed, who has been running a tea stall on his bicycle at Kovalam for the past 10 years also says the business is only on weekends. “Because of the bad weather, people are hesitant to come here. The situation will improve only when foreign tourists start arriving,” he he added. 

Ayurveda Tourism needs promotion
The country is gearing up to welcome foreign tourists and the state is trying to explore the possibilities of ayurveda tourism. “Yoga, meditation and ayurveda have huge scope in the post-Covid world. People want good health and discipline. We can woo travellers looking at ayurveda wellness as a part of beach tourism and those looking for authentic ayurvedic treatment centres. Poovar, Kovalam and Varkala have huge potential for this. Ayurveda beach wellness is very popular among tourists from Europe and Russia,” said Sajeev Kurup, president of Kerala Ayurveda Promotion Society and chairman of Ayurveda Task Force of FICCI Tourism Committee.

He also stresses the need to keep the beaches clean. “We need to improve the situation of beaches at Kovalam and Varkala,” said Sajeev.  He said that bilateral entry rules for other countries differ and these may cause huge inconvenience to the tourists. “The government mandates seven-day quarantine for visitors from some countries and double dose vaccination for others. We need uniform entry rules,” he added.

Waste crisis
Sajeev pointed out that unscientific waste management and littering is also a big turn-off for tourists. “We need to control the stray dog population. The tourists need better pathways and amenities, but most pathways are broken at many beach tourist spots. All spots had been closed down for nearly two years, so they need to be cleaned up and the waste management system brought back. Local bodies should step up and address these concerns,” said Sajeev.


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