Water taxis to boost Kerala’s backwater tourism

Tourists arriving in the South Indian State of Kerala could now hire ‘Water Taxis’ and sail through the serene backwaters of the state, thanks to the new initiative of the State Water Transport Department (SWTD).

“This is the first time in India that dedicated ‘Water Taxis’ (other than speed boats) are being rolled out. The vessels, each having a passenger capacity of 10 persons, can cruise at 15 nautical miles,” Shaji V Nair, Director, SWTD, said.  The special boats are constructed by Kochi-based Navgathi Marine Design and Constructions.

The first of the double-hull, catamaran-type fiber glass vessels will be launched on Thursday and operate out of Alappuzha, known as the ‘Venice of the East’ and popular for houseboat cruises. The department will roll out three more similar vessels by the year-end and will be stationed at tourist destinations like Ernakulam and Parassinikadavu in Kannur as part of upcoming Malabar cruise tourism project.

“The vessels will have open rear-end to offer a rejuvenating experience to travellers. The outboard diesel engines that feature in the vessels are imported from Sweden,” the official said.

Water Taxi services can be hired for Rs 750 for half-an-hour and proportionately for extended time period. The customers can book the services through the mobile number ‘9400050325’.

The department is aiming to introduce a dedicated app-based booking service by December when customers can book the services sitting at any corner of the world.

“The NIRVA water taxi series boats feature solar panels for auxiliary loads and generate power for lighting. The IRS-approved vessels are ideal for quick short travel passenger transportation minus the hassles of congested traffic, poorly-maintained roads and pollution,” said Sandith Thandasherry, CEO, Navgathi Marine.

The state, referred as God’s own country, re-opened most of its tourist destinations, including hill stations, back waters and Adventure Tourism centres, for tourists with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

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