Companies tired of hosting their conventions in hotels have turned to a new option: a spacious air-conditioned houseboat floating on the Kerala backwaters.
The double-storey, 150-foot long and 16-foot wide Jala Samrat is a fully air-conditioned houseboat which can seat around 160 executives on the first floor and is fitted with state-of-the-art communication systems.
This floating convention centre, arguably the first of its kind, was inaugurated a year ago. It cost the Alappuzha-based Pulickattil Tourism Group around Rs.8 million.
"We have had an excellent business with several commercial banks, central public sector organisations and even foreign companies holding their meetings on board," said Tomy Pulickattil, who owns Jala Samrat and a dozen other houseboats.
"We are getting bookings for the coming months. We get more and more business through word of mouth. We are working out to see if we can build one more houseboat like this," said Pulickattil.
Last month, Jala Samrat hosted two central ministers, Parliamentary Affairs and Indian Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who held meetings with officials attached to their ministries.
When Bahraini Labour Minister Majeed Al Alawi was here an official tour last month, he too held a meeting aboard Jala Samrat.