The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing tourism businesses to think outside the box in order to stay afloat. Case in point, a Kerala hotel and spa that turned its pristine swimming pool into a fish farm.

The Aveda Resort and Spa in Kumarakom, Kerala had to shut down operations in March, as part of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, and hasn’t been able to open since.

To make sure that its employees have some activity and that the property generates some income to hopefully pay basic bills so it can survive until tourism opens again, management decided to repurpose a 7.5-million-liter swimming pool as a fish pond.

“We have had zero revenues, so in June, we put around 16,000 2-month-old pearl spot fish in the pool,” Aveda’s general manager, Jyotish Surendran, told AFP.

“We plan to harvest by November and will export to the Middle East.”

Surendran estimates that Aveda will be able to harvest around four million tonnes of pearl fish from the makeshift pond, which they plan to sell for around $40,000 in the Middle East.

That’s hardly enough to cover the losses sustained by the business during the lockdown, but at least it keeps the staff busy and should help pay maintenance bills.

“The rectangular pool is 150 metres in length and 50 metres in width, with even depth which is ideal for aquaculture. We started fish farming on June 1, which would give sufficient time for harvest by Christmas,” the manager added.

“After consultations with the experts, we decided to go for pearl spots since they are endemic to this region. So we emptied the pool and pumped in fresh water from the Vembanad Lake to provide an ideal environment for the 16,000 seedlings we purchased from four sources.”

Now that they’ve had a taste of fish farming, the hotel staff don’t want to let it go even when tourism eventually opens again, and the Aveda Resort and Spa management is already planning to continue fish farming in some other location nearby, so it can at least source fresh pearl fish for guests.