Alappuzha: With the bird flu returning to haunt Alappuzha after two years, it has cast a shadow over tourism sector which was all set for the Deepavali rush this week. In a quick firefighting act, the houseboat owners dropped serving chicken and duck curry to guests.
All Kerala Houseboat Owners Association general secretary K. Jayavijayan said the industry would suffer if the situation prevailed.
"Chicken and duck are not on our menu now. Instead, there'll be more fish there. Unlike in the past, there is also a slump in Deepavali holidaymakers. It's a double whammy," he said.
Kerala Tourism data show some 25,000 northern Indians, mainly Gujaratis, travel to Alappuzha during the season.
The bird flu panic comes at a time when the multi-core industry was expecting a good seasonal arrival of foreign tourists.
“This time we have not yet got any cancellations, unlike last time. If the bird flu scare continues, it will affect bookings. When the outbreak occurred last time, a lot of bookings were cancelled. So we are more conscious this time,” said Tomi Pulickattil, a houseboat owner.
“There are 1163 licensed houseboats plying on the Vembanad Lake here. We don't know how the situation will pan out as reports spread out through the internet,” said Switten George, another houseboat operator.
Meanwhile, District Tourism Promotion Council said there was nothing to worry about as the virus H1 N8 is less intense.
“The situation is under control as the district administration has decided to cull affected birds,” a DTPC official said....