The Goodearth Houseboat

The Goodearth Houseboat was launched in 2011, and has proved a very popular addition to the Village Ways programme. Guests enjoy relaxed exploration of one of the unspoiled areas of the Kerala Backwaters, and several village communities now benefit from guest visits. Traditional Kerala Backwaters tourism is centred on just a few villages, so this new houseboat opened up new areas to a gentle and low-impact tourism which nevertheless brings significant economic and social benefits.

The Kayal Gramodaya

The Kayal Gramodaya (KG) is a ‘Self-help Group’ established by Village Ways as a Village Tourism Enterprise. It was registered with the Pattanakardu Panchayat on 20th May 2010. The Goodearth was built by the KG, financed by loan and grant funding from Village Ways and from donations by the Village Ways Charitable Trust. The boat is operated and maintained by the KG, who provide the crew and guides, in rotation. The Vayalar women’s sub-committee provides the on-board cooking demonstrations. The KG shares profits from operating the boat among its members.

The Kayal Gramodaya has 14 members and two Patrons, from Chenganda, Vayalar, Perambulam and Kodamthurutu villages. The members were selected from poorer communities. Office bearers are elected for five-year terms and meetings are held three-monthly. Basheer, Village Ways Coordinator, acts as secretary to the KG.

Timeline of the launch

Initial steps

November 2009

Village Ways Board agrees to proceed with a Village Tourism Enterprise (VTE) on the Kerala Backwaters, centred on a houseboat.

20th May 2010

The Kayal Gramodaya (KG) formed as a registered Self- help Group (SHG) to build, own and operate a houseboat.

April-May 2010 July 2010

Initial boat designs prepared.

2.  Selection and processing of timber

April 2011

4. Keel-laying

April 2011

Boat building shelter constructed at Vayalar.

Keel-laying ceremony.

 

5. Construction of Hull

May 2011

 

6. Launching

8th September 2011

Launch of houseboat hull

Houseboat named “Goodearth” in recognition of a generous donation by the VWCT Trustee, Mrs Anita Lal

 

7. Fitting-out and engine installation

September/October 2011

 

8. Open for Guests!

First Guests (Harriet & Alexi) arrive to stay.

 

Impact

The social impact of this VTE has been very positive, with a significant financial income resulting from good guest numbers in the first two seasons. The Kayal Gramodaya (KG) continues to provide solid support for the enterprise, and incomes are being widely distributed.

 

Links

See this piece from the Guardian in February 2012 for a compelling picture of the houseboat experience. http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2012/feb/17/kerala-houseboat-holidays-locally-owned

If you are interested in booking a stay on the Goodearth houseboat, please visit our holiday website at www.villageways.com