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GIDA gives in-principle nod to hand over its boat to Ernakulam DTPC to ferry tourists

Tour packages to be readied in a month

The long-awaited tourist boat service of the Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) is set to be realised, with the agency’s governing council meeting that is slated to be held in early September set to take a call on operating a new 90-passenger capacity, double-decked boat of the Goshree Islands Development Authority (GIDA).

“The GIDA has agreed in-principle to hand over the vessel to us for operations, following a few rounds of discussions. It will most likely be on a revenue-sharing basis between the two agencies,” said S. Vijayakumar, DTPC Secretary.

That the District Collector is the Secretary of GIDA and chairman of DTPC would help bring about the arrangement. On its part, the tourism body would choose an operating partner to man the vessel and arrange food for guests, it is learnt.

DTPC has a boat terminal on the northern side of Marine Drive, near the ‘Kettuvallom’ bridge. The agency gave up plans to build/procure a new boat, and decided to look for alternatives. The GIDA boat, which was conceived prior to the announcement of Water Metro project, as a ferry to link the city with the Goshree Islands, came in handy.

Affordable tariff

“We hope to roll out the vessel in November after completing formalities. Tour packages will be readied in a month. With KSINC already operating tourist vessels from Marine Drive and SWTD set to follow suit, it is hoped that this will lead to affordable tariff and the standardisation of the quality of service in the sector which was hitherto dominated by private players,” Mr. Vijayakumar said.

Sources in GIDA said they had contacted agencies like KSINC (which already operates Sagara Rani I and II and cruise vessel Nefertiti), KTDC (which once operated tourist boats in Kochi) and DTPC, since the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS)-class vessel was ready for operation. A few rounds of talks were held to evince their interest to operate the vessel which can carry 60 passengers in the lower and 30 in the upper deck, they added.

Although conceived as a ferry, that the vessel has two decks is an added attraction, since most guests prefer backwater cruises while seated in the upper deck.

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