India: Heritage town shops in Kerala shutting down amid Covid
Lack of tourism leading to a grim situation in towns of Fort Kochi
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the heritage towns of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry in Kerala, with virtually no tourists over the past few months, forcing many of the traders to dispose of their wares and shut operations.
While cruise ships have stopped calling on Kochi, even domestic and international tourists are not visiting the city and the state, leading to a grim situation in the heritage towns.
"We scraped past in 2020 by banking on online orders,” Sunny L. Malayil, co-partner of Crafters, which has a 30,000 sq. ft retail outlet, told a newspaper.
“The pandemic's second wave in early 2021 played spoilsport with even that, since the fear factor increased.”
The worst-hit by the crisis are artisans who have been forced to switch their careers because of an absence of orders for their handcrafted items.
N.B. Majnu of Heritage Arts, which has a sprawling, 100,000 sq ft outlet, said that half of its customers were foreign tourists. Their absence since the start of the Covid-crisis last March has resulted in most traders being unable to pay rent. For many, their power supply has been disconnected over non-payment of dues, forcing them to shut shop.
“Despite this, we need to spend on maintaining the premises, to prevent damage and termite infestation of the costly items on display,” said Majnu.
“There seems to be no hope of revival at least till December.”
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