The arrival of luxury liner M V Empress from Mumbai at the newly-built cruise terminal, Sagarika, in Cochin Port, on September 22, was hailed as a promising start to the revival of post-pandemic domestic tourism in Kerala.
The Lakshadweep-bound luxury cruise carrying 1,200 travellers had a stop-over here with 300 travellers de-boarding the ship for a day-long on-shore sightseeing.
Kerala Tourism Department accorded a warm welcome to the guests with martial Velakali dancers and women in traditional off-white dress greeting them. Kerala Tourism Joint Director K. Radhakrishnan and Deputy Director T G Abhilash and other top officials were also present at the port to welcome the guests.
The vessel, owned by Cordelia Cruises, became the first luxury cruise to anchor at the state-of-the-art terminal, after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world.
The day-long Kochi leg scheduled a round of Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, touching several points of historical importance. Boat rides along the backwaters for the tourists to take in the charm of the &lsquoQueen of Arabian Sea&rsquo were also arranged.
The Lakshadweep islands is the next destination of the liner but passengers who have opted for just the Kochi package will be taken to other parts of the state, according to Voyages Kerala, the tour agent.
With this event, Kerala Tourism said it is expecting a busy future following the waning of the pandemic even as the on-shore tour adheres to the strict Covid-19 protocols.
Meanwhile, Kerala Tourism Department has been taking a series of steps to restart tourism in the state which suffered a severe jolt during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March this year, it launched a travel campaign, &ldquoMy First Trip 2021&rdquo which saw participation from well-known Indian social media influencers.
In May, it was announced that the state&rsquos West Coast Canal project traversing through 11 districts is all set to be a tourism water-highway. Around 50 tourism spots will be created along the banks of the WCC corridor from Kovalam in the south to Kasaragod in the north with the involvement of local bodies.
Interestingly, in July 2020, The Aditya, India&rsquos first solar-powered ferry boat, was awarded the Gustave Trouve Award for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating. The low cost passenger ferry operating in Vembanad backwaters won the award after competing against five other finalists from Europe in the public transport category.