Bengaluru: To attract domestic and international tourists to experience the rich tourism and ecological diversity of Karnataka, the Karnataka State Tourism Department has launched the ambitious Heli Tourism project connecting places of tourist interest.
The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) yesterday signed MoUs with two helicopter operators — Thumby Aviation Pvt. Ltd. and Chipsan Aviation Pvt. Ltd. — for the Heli Tourism project and the agreements are valid for five years.
These helicopters will connect tourists with many tourist destinations including Mysuru, Kabini, Kodagu and Chikkamagalur in South Karnataka with many places in the north and will be available at affordable prices, said officials. Karnataka is home to a number of historical and religious places, wildlife parks, hill stations and waterfronts. Plans are on to prepare a Heli Tourism Circuit.
Tourism Secretary Pankaj Kumar Pandey, who is at the helm of the project, said, “KSTDC will provide support to these agencies to obtain various Government approvals and permits, certification, etc., and also help to link up with luxury hotels and resorts in the State.”
Stating that KSTDC will help secure permission to use Government-owned heliports, Pandey said, “Promotion of Heli Tourism will be done through the Tourism Department and KSTDC’s websites and social media platforms.”
The service providers will need to provide Heli Tourism services at the notified locations. They should operate 50 trips of passenger services per year during the first two years and 100 trips per year after that.
Officials said that there are grand plans to bring in the hospitality sector at various tourist destinations, especially hotels under the project. This will also give a boost to the tourism industry that has taken a severe beating owing to COVID-19 and the restrictions imposed by the Government.
It may be recalled here that in April last year, the Karnataka Tourism Department, under Minister C.P. Yogeeshwar had proposed the Heli Tourism project in parts of the State, beginning with Mysuru. The project ran into rough weather after environment activists and the erstwhile royal family of Mysore objected to the proposal to cut trees around the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel for the project.
They argued that promoting Heli Tourism by constructing a helipad next to Lalita Mahal is not viable for attracting tourists to Mysuru and bad for sustainable development as over 60 acres of land surrounding Lalitha Mahal is diverse with vegetation and a home to 180 species of butterflies.