“The Covid-19 restrictions stopped all boat services in Kumarakom for almost a year, now all are back for Christmas and New Year tourism season”, said a boat owner.
“Houseboat tourism restarted after a long time in Kottayam as Covid-19 situation has improved after the pandemic but footfall isn’t high. 70 per cent of tourists are from Kerala while the rest 30 per cent are from other states”, said Sreekumar another houseboat owner. “I hope that the Omicron situation would be over soon and the tourism business will bounce back”, Sreekumar added.
Backwater boat services were suspended from May 2020 when Kerala proclaimed statewide lockdown due to an increase in COVID delta variant infections. On August 5, the District Administration in Alappuzha, Kerala, restarted houseboat services after fully vaccinated staff were granted authorization to sail the boats. District Collector A. Alexander issued a statement on July 28 outlining the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to be followed in this case.
The Kerala Tourism Ministry has requested that passengers produce at least one vaccination dose proof or RTPCR Covid negative report from 72 hours prior to boarding in order to promote safe tourism. Workers and employees on houseboats were also asked to get properly vaccinated against Covid-19.