With dinghies, Kerala water tourism department to take tourism experience to new paths

Now, tourists can explore narrow canals that cruise boats or even houseboats can’t sail into.
A dinghy launched by the state water transport department in Kochi backwaters
A dinghy launched by the state water transport department in Kochi backwaters Photo | Express

KOCHI: Ever been to the backwater paradises of Alappuzha or Munroe Island? Sail into the interior regions there and you will be welcomed by a maze of enchanting narrow canals fringed with palm or coconut trees on both sides. Now, tourists can explore such narrow canals that cruise boats or even houseboats can’t sail into.

Thanks to the novel initiative of the Kerala state water transport department (SWTD) that has rolled out five dinghy boats, similar to those used by the fire force. These tiny boats, with a maximum capacity of 10 passengers, will be towed behind the luxury tourist cruise vessels of the department like Indra, the country’s largest solar-electric AC boat currently deployed in the Kochi backwaters.

“We are deploying five dinghy boats, each costing `5 lakh, on an experimental basis. They will be attached to the main tourist cruise vessels. The tourists will have the option to explore the winding backwaters through narrower canals or water bodies enroute by paying an additional charge. For instance, they can sail through the narrow canals of Munroe Island and explore the beauty of the backwaters like never before. If successful, we will roll out more such boats,” said a senior official with SWTD.

The mechanised dinghy boats will be deployed on an experimental basis in Munroe Island (Kollam), Alappuzha, Kochi backwaters, and Parassinikadavu (Kannur).

The move is part of the department’s efforts to substantially boost its revenue through tourism. It’s also set to introduce an online reservation system, aimed at facilitating tourists to book its popular services from anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, the department is planning new tourism cruise services on “unexplored routes” to woo tourists in large numbers.

SWTD exploring new tourist routes

“The fast ferry ‘Vega-1’ , another service having much patronage, has been dry-docked for the past several months for modernisation works. Now the vessel also boasts an onboard food counter where refreshments and popular snacks will be served to tourists. We are exploring newer tourist routes like Kakkathuruthu,” the official pointed out.

Kakkathuruthu, a tiny picturesque island with emerald green waters on all sides, is known for its “magical sunset view”.

The island, located nearly 10km away from Kochi's outskirts, shot to fame after the National Geographic travel magazine listed it in ‘Around the World in 24 Hours’, a photographic tour of travel-worthy spots in the world.

The SWTD has emerged as a key tourism player in the last few years after it introduced some of the finest vessels, including the AC double decker ‘Indra’.

All these services have become a hit among tourists and they are running to full capacity on weekends and holidays. The SWTD also provided onboard food counters in these services, which have been well received by the tourists.

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