Festive season rekindles hope among tourism stakeholders

Visitors frequenting waterfront homestays to savour ethnic seafood delicacies

The festive season has resulted in waterfront homestays in the city suburbs doing teeming business, with people frequenting them to savour the traditional Onasadya along with ethnic seafood delicacies.

For those yearning to take a break from the monotony of life during the pandemic, freshwater fish caught in the traditional way and open spaces are the main attractions of homestays.

Waterfront homestays were the most in demand during the past week, as guests could relish ethnic delicacies while enjoying the scenic backwaters, said M.P. Sivadattan, member, State Tourism Advisory Committee, and director, Kerala Homestay and Tourism Society (Kerala HATS). “The lull in the arrival of foreign tourists owing to the pandemic is being compensated to some extent by domestic tourists, many of whom want to have lunch and snacks in a village ambience,” he added.

Keralam Kaanam

Visitors appreciate the fact that pearl spot and other fish varieties caught in the traditional way, including using Chinese nets from nearby locales, and served fresh taste substantially different from those that are refrigerated and served in most hotels. “The renewed emphasis on rural and responsible tourism, in keeping with the global post-pandemic trend, is an added attraction. This has resulted in the Keralam Kaanam slogan, which exhorts people to check out locales in the vicinity, bearing fruit a year after it was popularised,” Mr. Sivadattan said.

There has been a steady increase in the number of guests who want to have ethnic food amid a rural setting, said Antony Bava, owner of a homestay at Kumbalanghi, India’s first model tourism village.

“Guests are of the view that the waterfront and the locale tucked well away from the main road offer them peace of mind. Most of them come seeking seafood and duck dishes, prepared in the same kitchen as that of the hosts. They include those residing in resorts and high-end hotels, who want to eat simple dishes prepared in the ethnic way,” Mr. Bava added.

The patronage for waterfront properties in the suburbs is in stark contrast to that in hitherto popular tourist hubs like Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, where tourist footfall is yet to reach the desired levels.

Tourist locales

Interestingly, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of visitors to Marine Drive, the waterfront avenue walkway of the Cochin Port Trust, and locales like Bhoothathankettu, Ezhattumukham, and Thattekad during the past week, said S. Vijayakumar, Secretary, Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC).

Aimed at ensuring adherence to the COVID-19 protocol, random checks are being done. Penalty is being imposed on rule violators, especially those who have not taken the first dose of vaccine. Tourist boats have resumed services at Marine Drive, and their operators ought to sanitise them after each trip, he added.

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