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Kerala - Alappuzha Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Tourists flocking to Alappuzha year-round

Dennis Marcus Mathew



HOLIDAY SPIRIT: Foreign tourists arrivingin Alappuzha on motorbikes.

ALAPPUZHA: The concept of a tourist season in the backwaters of the State is changing, what with the entire world in a seemingly year-long holidaying mood.

The definitions of a typical tourist season in Alappuzha, known the world over for its combination of sunny beachside resorts and scenic backwaters, were hitherto restricted to the five-month period from October to February. That was when the word tourist in these parts referred only to foreigners. They also looked similar, trooping in with heavy backpacks, cameras slung around the neck, bottled water in hand and wide-brimmed straw hats.

Now, the scene has changed. The October-February bracketing is gone. Except when the rain is heavily beating down in June and July, there are tourists everywhere in Alappuzha. The looks too have changed. The foreign ones include high-flying businessmen, large groups who drop in during worldwide tours, fun-hunting youngsters on motorbikes, bicycles and even autorickshaws, and then, more than ever, there is a heavy influx of domestic tourists as well.

According to All Kerala Houseboat Owners' Association general secretary Jomon Konnackapally, it has been the increase in the number of domestic tourists that changed the face of backwater tourism in Alappuzha. At the same time, the role played by the changing face of tourism across the world - making travel affordable to more people – too is not being ruled out.

“They come round the year, and from all over India, thus doing away with the concept of an off-season for tourism in Alappuzha,” he says, adding that to cover the only two dull months, June and July, efforts are on to promote monsoon tourism on the backwaters.

The official figures from 2009 onwards validate what he and the other tourist operators here say. In 2009, there were 33,493 foreign tourists who reached Alappuzha, along with 1,64,223 domestic tourists.

In 2010, the number of foreigners jumped to 38,510, despite the global economic slowdown, while that of domestic tourists shot up to 1,83,929.

In 2011, so far, there is a 4.5 per cent jump in the number of foreigners already while in that of domestic tourists, the jump is by seven per cent. And this is just when the Nehru Trophy Boat Race and other popular boat races are just around the corner. The recently approved halt for the Rajdhani Express in Alappuzha too is expected help the tourist inflow this year further.

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