Lakeside destinations in Kottayam are rushing back to business with the subsiding COVID-19 pandemic wave.
Stakeholders of the tourism industry here have accelerated the distribution of vaccines among their employees. Nearly two weeks after the State government included hotel and restaurant employees on the priority list for the vaccination drive, over 60% of the workers in the resorts have received the first dose.
As per estimates with the district Tourism Department, 548 out of 1,146 persons registered on the priority list for tourism workers have received the vaccine.
“To begin with, employees of 51 hotels and resorts have been included on the priority list and the scheme will now be extended to homestays, service villas and the houseboat employees,” said G.Sreekumar, Deputy Director, Tourism Department.
The officials, however, are finding it difficult to trace the vaccination status of houseboat workers, the majority of whom have taken up casual work to make both ends meet.
According to the industry stakeholders, the initiative is expected to accelerate the consumer confidence needed to drive the visitor volume that the village destinations depend on. In Kumarakom, where tourism is the single largest contributor to the local economy after agriculture, about 80% of the resort employees have received the first dose.
“If the government permits vaccinated guests or guests with COVID negative certificates, the business can resume at the earliest. At the same time, the safety practices of contactless check-in and other social distancing measures will continue in the long run,”, said K.Arun Kumar, secretary, Chamber of Vembanad Hotels and Resorts.
The lakeside villages of Kottayam were bouncing back from the impact of the COVID-19-induced lock down last year. The fall in business has affected the rural economy badly, leaving the stakeholders at the bottom such as artisans, tour guides, restaurants offering ethnic cuisine and local transport operators in dire straits.
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