Kumarakom to get facelift before start of tourist season

Kottayam, August 27:An action plan for the comprehensive development and a revamp of the popular Kumarakom tourist destination was proposed at a meeting of tourism industry stakeholders. Committees were set up to look into the various issues, such as basic infrastructural maintenance, lake and canal conservation, waste management, repairs to pedestrian walkways and practicing the Responsible Tourism initiative.

Ettumanoor MLA Shri Suresh Kurup, Kerala Tourism director Shri U V Jose and elected representatives of various local bodies participated in the meeting. The newly-devised committees will submit reports, by September 3, recommending short and long term action. “On the basis of this report, further action will be undertaken,” said Shri Jose. “By November 1, Kumarakom, Arpookara and Aymanampanchayats, which come under the title of the Kumarakom destination, will be spruced up to receive visitors.”

ShriKurup noted that making Vembanad Lake free of waste is the top priority. “That would, to a large extent, be a solution to the main issues facing the region”he averred. “Plastic waste poses the biggest challenge. Machinary to convert plastic waste into pellet form should be set up. It is neither expensive nor does it take up too much space, and it is a project that can be easily undertaken by the panchayat.”

Kumarakom’sinternationally appreciated Responsible Tourism initiative will be a prime focus with particular attention given to waste management and canal conservation, said Kerala Tourism director Shri U V Jose.

Shri Jose noted that money was not an issue to overcoming the problems faced in waste management. “Kumarakom’s Responsible Tourism programme was the most appreciated of the Kerala Tourism projects, including in London,” noted the Tourism director.

“Several international agencies have expressed an interest in making studies on the initiative and it is our responsibility to make sure that it continues to be an energetic project. Responsible tourism is the sustainable way forward for the industry.”

Shri U V Jose instructed private stakeholders and the Kumarakompanchayat to make all attempts to safeguard the initiative, and be competitive, if necessary.  “Priority should be given to lake conservation with steps to tackle weeds, and preventing the release of effluents from houseboats and resorts,” he said.

Private stakeholder pointed out several regional issues that demanded immediate attention, such as electricity distribution and the protection of canals.

“The panchayat’s main limitation is the lack of funds,” said Panchayat President Shri A P Salimon. “Several waste management projects are being undertaken with the help of agencies, but more projects need to be taken up in partnership with the tourism sector.”

Also present at the meeting were KTDC MD Shri D Balamurali, Kumarakompanchayat Vice President SmtSindhuRavikumar, panchayat members and tourism industry stakeholders.

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