COVID-19 scare: Kerala Tourism help desk comes to the aid of foreign tourists

COVID-19 scare: Kerala Tourism help desk comes to the aid of foreign tourists

Kochi: Young and ebullient Miriam Skovgard Mahony, a Danish tourist who landed in Kerala this month, had enjoyed her trip to the state to the hilt, and was all set to fly back to her European country from Kochi with loads of pleasant memories and hospitality of the God’s Own Country.   

But the 25-year-old Dane was caught in a quandary as she could not find a hotel accommodation at Willingdon Island. However, a resort in the area came to her rescue and offered her food. The resort contacted the Kerala Government’s Department of Tourism, which has set up a help desk to swiftly address any issues faced by visiting tourists in the state in view of the crisis.

And help came straightaway. The Kochi office of Kerala Tourism swung into action in the early hours of Wednesday. "Our staff soon came to the scene and took Miriam to our hotel run by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) in Bolgatty Island, not far from where she was stranded," Kerala Tourism Secretary Rani George said.

In a similar instance late on Tuesday, Kerala Tourism intervened to ensure quick relief to four tourists in another part of Kochi. A third such incident happened in Alappuzha.

At Fort Kochi, Australian Goodger Ben Julian and American Andrey Sergeevich besides Singaporeans Thia Martha Augastine and Amy Marie had booked rooms in a hotel. They were dismayed when all four were refused accommodation because of the Coronavirus scare. Like Miriam, they also contacted the Kerala Tourism help desk, which acted quick and ensured the tourists are at ease. Soon they got their accommodation.

At an Alappuzha hotel, US national Alan was asked to present medical certificate clearing him of the virus infection. The man rang up the help desk, which took him to the nearest hospital on the advice of the District Medical Officer. As a precautionary measure, he was shifted to isolation ward.

Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said there was a one-off claim (in the social media) where a phone call to the help desk set up on Tuesday was not attended. "I believe it was an aberration. The facility has been functioning to the best of its capacity," he added.

The minister pointed out that all but two of the 19 British tourists who were sent back from the Nedumbassery airport recently continued to be taken care of at a hotel in Kalamassery, 20 km north of Kochi.  This was done after they were recommended quarantine by health authorities last week.

“Of them, the husband had tested positive for Covid-19. The government is meeting his medical expense. The wife is still under observation,” the minister said.

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