If realised, certain projects to be showcased at ‘Emerging Kerala’ may change the face of the ‘Venice of the East’. The Department of Ports has formulated projects to make use of the geographical advantage of Alappuzha.
A cruise passenger terminal, a marina and a dry-docking facility for houseboats are the major projects proposed for the development of Alappuzha.
“The dry-dock facility for houseboats will surely benefit houseboat operators. It also ensures employment generation in the field of boat-building and repairing,” said Tomy Pulikattil, managing director of Pulikattil Tourism Group, Alappuzha.
In 2010, there were 2,25,393 tourists (41,977 foreign and 1,83,416 domestic) in the region. Of these, 39,348 stayed in houseboats. Around 1,000 houseboats are being operated in the backwaters of Alappuzha.
As per the Kerala Inland Vessel Rules, 2010, it is mandatory to get vessels inspected at a dry-dock or slipway every 24 months. Hence, a minimum of 500 houseboats in Alappuzha need to be docked for inspection every year. But there are only five repair yards with a capacity of 19 houseboats at a time.
“The average docking time (for a boat) is 30 days. It is obvious that Alappuzha is in an urgent need of setting up more houseboat dry-docking facilities for repair and inspection,” states the project. It was KITCO which undertook consultancy services for the Department of Ports.
It is considered that the Alappuzha marina, which is designed for low-speed boats and pleasure crafts operating in the canals and backwaters, is a sure-win project banking on the constant inflow of both domestic and foreign tourists.
“The water park, with a dolphin pool, water scooters, banana boat rides, speedboat rides and an ayurvedic spa will make the spot an irresistible tourism destination,” it is stated.