By Lilit Marcus, CNN
Who says a meter has to be underground?
In Kochi, a city in southern India, getting around on waterways is now easier thanks to a new fleet of sleek, brightly colored ferries.
The “water meter” will connect Kochi, in the state of Kerala, with 10 nearby islands in the Arabian Sea. Guests can book tickets online and use a QR code.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared at a ceremony on April 25 to unveil the new vessel.
“Our endeavor is to provide made-in-India solutions that are tailored to local conditions. Whether it is semi-high-speed trains, regional rapid transit systems, ferries, (or) cable cars, such systems are being prepared wherever they are needed,” he said.
Modi added that further connectivity through the new ferries could improve “backwater tourism.”
Areas accessible primarily by smaller vessels are known as backwaters. In Kerala, some can only be reached by renting a small canoe led by an experienced local guide. As a result, these rural communities do not receive as many tourists.
“Kerala has a lot to offer to the country and the world. I am sure that this experiment being carried out in Kerala will also become a model for other states in the country,” added the prime minister.
Upgrading the roads, railways and metro systems has been a major initiative of the prime minister ahead of the G20, which India will host in September.
As it becomes the world’s most populous country, India has made no secret of its tourism ambitions.
Indian tourism secretary Arvind Singh has said his administration plans to create 50 new tourist destinations and 59 flight routes to make it easier for visitors to access more parts of the country.
The Kochi water metro system is just the latest in a series of big infrastructure and travel announcements in India.
The longest river cruise in the world left Varanasi in Januarywith a 51-day itinerary through several Indian states and neighboring Bangladesh.
Then the Kolkata metro system, the oldest in the country, revealed its submarine front line, which travels under the river Hooghly. It will open to the public later this year.
The CNN Wire
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery company. All rights reserved.
CNN’s Sania Farooqi contributed reporting.