Houseboat workers in Kumarakom are striking in demand of a higher salary as well as a reduction in contract period, supported by the owners of the houseboats, who have also suspended services. Officials state that a number of domestic and international tourists have been inconvenienced due to this.
A few of the houseboat owners resumed services temporarily on July 2, after the state police intervened. However, the majority of the houseboats have stalled operations.
It is being feared that if the strike continues, the business of hotels and resorts in Kumarakom will be adversely affected, which will, in turn, affect the entire tourism industry. Also, there is a risk of the strike tarnishing the image of Kumarakom, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kerala.
Tour operators are forced to book houseboats in Aleppey for their customers, in the face of this situation. RR Joshiraj, a member of the All Kerala Houseboat Owners Association (AKHOA) stated that the Alappuzha houseboat industry was operating routinely, and there were no such issues there.
In the face of the strike, tourists are turning to the ‘Kerala model Kashmir shikaras’, which are operational in the state. However, these shikaras can be used only for cruising canals and not for riding the backwaters.
Source: The Times of India