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Nedumbassery: The move by the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) to position itself as the gateway to the State is set to advance further with the government nod to initiate the proposal of a waterway connecting the airport with the seaport in Kochi.
“Once it opens up, a ride along this scenic route will make up an integral part of the itinerary of all the backpackers landing here,” said a senior airport official. It will also play a key role in developing the activity of ‘cruise exchange' and expand the airport's core product of aircraft landings, he said.
According to the official, there was also a plan for CIAL to hold discussions with the DP World officials to strike a deal in the segment of cruise exchange in an effort to draw more chartered aircraft operators to Kochi. Further, it is also working on a proposal to promote the route by establishing working partnerships with tour operators and other key stakeholders in the sector.
“These proposals are on a liquid stage but initial studies point to a great demand for this route from tourists as it offers sight-seeing right from their landing at the airport,” he said.
As per the statistics available with CIAL, tourist movements accounted about 60 per cent of passenger movement in the domestic and 20 per cent of the international sector. This numbers are set to increase further with the opening of a proposed air-route connecting the five west coast airports including Kochi.
According to tourism sources at the airport, the 49.5-km-long waterway will open up an alternative route for the tourists from Nedumbassery to Alappuzha, a favourite backwater destination.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India, in a survey, has divided the route into three stretches —from the Seaport to Eloor, from Eloor to Kanjoor and from Kanjoor to the airport.
While the primary reach of 23 km is already a part of the National Waterway 3 and will require no improvement, some up gradation works will have to be carried out to develop the second stretch of 26 km through the Periyar.
The final stretch through the Chengalthodu, an extremely silted up tributary of the Periyar, is the most important part that interlinks the airport to the river. The study also envisages the construction of a passenger jetty and a terminal building of 2,000 sq.ft. with all the luxury passenger amenities.
Meanwhile, the IATA Agents Association of India state president P.R Bose has requested the government to extend the water transport facility from Kanjoor to places like Kalady and Malayatoor.
According to him, the move will give a great opportunity to develop tourism in these areas along with developing a waterway transport system in the Periyar.
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