Kerala's popular fleet of tourist houseboats can now be differentiated by quality. Rising numbers of these backwater dwellings had disturbed the residents of Kuttanad, who demanded some regulation. Consequently, the state's tourism department has decided to classify the houseboats based on environmental and safety norms.
Kerala's tourism minister, K V Thomas, hopes that the Green Palm Certification would make the boats more ecofriendly and help meet the requirements of visitors. But the boat classification drive, launched in December 2002, has already run into choppy waters. Operators complain that many of the conditions laid down are too expensive to comply with and disproportionate to the amount earned from the cruise.
The tourism department admits that only four houseboats have sought the Green Palm Certification. Since adherence to green guidelines is not mandatory for getting a licence, boat owners are reluctant to invest in the certificate.