Sending out a loud message to the world that Kerala’s Tourism has come out of the trough caused by the COVID pandemic, state Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas, along with his wife, went for an hour-long rafting and kayaking on the placid waters of Anjarakandi river in Kannur district.
By doing so on a pleasant evening on Wednesday, the minister not only sought to showcase the immense potential of river-based tourism in north Kerala ahead of Onam, but also underlined the state’s preparedness towards embracing visitors from India and abroad in strict compliance with the pandemic protocols.
The Minister, accompanied by wife Smt. Veena, rafted through the 3-km stretch of the river from Pinarayi to Parapram, enjoying the spectacular view of the lush coconut-palm fringed setting, punctuated by mangroves.
“Water tourism has great potential for Kerala. It is also a safe getaway for families during the pandemic. Rafting and kayaking through our rivers will be an unforgettable experience,” he added. The minister noted that no serious effort had so far been made to develop river tourism in Kerala, but the government has now chalked up plans to tap this sector in a big way as it would help increase the footfalls of both the foreign and domestic tourists in substantial numbers.
He also said more tourists could be attracted to North Malabar if the proposed river cruise tourism project is linked to adventure tourism. “The government will look into creating an adventure tourism circuit linking the rivers of Kerala. Necessary infrastructure would be developed in key points of the circuit. The completion of the waterway project will impart an added momentum to the aqua tourism in the state,” he added.
The waterway project, traversing through 11 districts, will provide tourists with the opportunity to cruise through the ancient water highways. Around 50 tourism spots are to be created along the banks of the 633-km West Coast Canal (WCC) from Kovalam in the south to Kasaragod in the north.
Kannur District Tourism Promotion Council Secretary Shri K C Sreenivasan was also on board during the trip, which was held in total compliance of COVID protocol.
The minister’s initiative was a part of the state government’s sustained efforts to bring the tourism sector back on the track, which included relaxation in norms allowing access to tourist facilities for fully vaccinated people to enter the state without RT-PCR; creating a ‘Bio Bubble’ tourism model; and vaccinating various stakeholders with the combined efforts of the industry and the Tourism Department.
Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, while inaugurating the Onam festivities on Saturday last, said his government had initiated effective measures to resume the pandemic-hit tourism activities in a safe and risk-free manner. “The tourism sector of Kerala has shown tremendous resilience by outliving back-to-back crisis since 2016,” he pointed out.