Finally, they are here. And in droves. The number of tourists out on a stroll in the pavements of Kollam gingerly thumbing their copies of tourist guides are increasing day by day. The season which ought to have kick-started in November has come alive.
The visitors' roving eyes take in the sights of hotels, lodges and malls as they loiter about. Even though lesser number of foreigners head to Kollam than other districts like Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam, the possibilities are endless. Foreigners come to Kollam primarily for backwater rides. Tourists from Germany, America, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Britain are exploring the options here, mainly a ride to Monroe Island.
Tourists arriving in Varkala and other places reach here aided by tour operators or on their own to take in the sight of Monroe Island. There is much demand for the picnic conducted by DTPC to Monroe Island as part of the village backwater trip. The tourists are ferried from the Kollam Boat Jetty premises to Munroe Island which is 27 kilometers away, daily morning and afternoon. They return only after a ride of the backwater in a small boat. DTPC's canoe can carry twelve visitors. This journey through the canals of the Island wonderfully enables the tourists to imbibe the pulse of the countryside firsthand. They enthusiastically capture on camera the inland fishermen who come for fishing in their boats, countless kingfishers, woodpeckers and cranes.
They cast curious glances at the oil mills and dried coconuts in the yards of the houses in these villages. DTPC has authorized some of the villagers to tell the tourists all about coir making. The foreigners love watching boat being repaired and the rhythmic hand movements of beating husk. The canoe rides are charged only Rs 500 each. Private parties also arrange backwater rides for tourists in and around Munroe Island.
Scramble for the boat Tourist rush is experienced in the Kollam - Alapuzha and Alapuzha - Kollam boat services of the Water Transport Authority. The trip starting from Kollam boat jetty at 10.30 am culminates in Alapuzha at 6.30 pm. Several foreigners can be spotted again when the boat starting from Alapuzha in the morning reaches Kollam at 6.30 in the evening. The fact that midsize lodges are readily available in Kollam attracts many foreigners to the place. DTPC Secretary K. Prasad said that more foreign tourists are likely to land in Kollam with the full-scale implementation of the Ashtamudi Tourism project.
Circuit projects Implementation of circuit projects that help foreign tourists reaching the district to stay at least three days in Kollam will ensure that the district becomes a preferred tourist hub. District Tourism authorities say that expansion of the Palaruvi Circuit that aids visiting of Palaruvi, Punalur suspension bridge, Thenmala Ecotourism and Shenduruny is on the cards. A coastal circuit linking the district's fishing harbors, the beaches of Kollam, Thankaserry and Thirumullavaram and Karunagapally, Alappad, Paravur and Thanni sectors will be started soon. The tourism project is also necessary for the successful run of cruise ships exploiting the possibilities of Kollam harbor and linking Maldives, Sri Lanka and Lakshadweep.