Alappuzha: Special Tourism Zones anchored as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) are expected to be an impetus for tourism sector here in the long run. The industry feels the proposal along with the focus on rural infrastructure development could boost backwater tourism as the Budget emphasised on safety and sanitation by the introduction of bio-toilets. It has the strength of both backwater and rural tourism here. "Road infrastructure and sanitation are crucial for boosting tourism. The budget allocation to these sections is a welcome move, said Switten George, vice-president, All Kerala Houseboat Owners’ Association.
"As far as Alappuzha is concerned, a lot of foreign tourists are interested to see rural life of Kuttanad. However, the development of infrastructure here remains weak. Places like Kainakary has no good road connectivity. People still depend on the ferry boats run by State Water Transport Department. So it’s positive about the focus on rural infrastructure development." The Budget allocated Rs 1,840.77 crore to the Tourism Ministry including Rs 959.91 crore for the Integrated Development of Tourist Circuits around specific themes (Swadesh Darshan scheme) an increase of Rs 250 crore.
Another sector Kerala can benefit is from pilgrim tourism. Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) has got an allocation of Rs 100 crore. The backwater tourism is also expected to shine with promotional and publicity programmes which got Rs 412 crore. "If there are better road connectivity and sanitation facilities in rural areas, more tourists would prefer the countryside," said Binu Sebastian, a local tour operator. "The budget allocation can be used for canal beautification and weed removal from rural canals in Kuttanad as well in Alappuzha town."