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Heli-tourism project to take off this month

Staff Correspondent

Service will be launched from World Heritage Site Hampi


Tourism Department making preparations for inauguration

Operator yet to fix tariff for flights


— FILE PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Ready to roll:The heli-tourism service will be started along the heritage circuit, which covers Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal,

MYSORE: The much-awaited launch of heli-tourism in the State may take off this month. Preparations for its inauguration are on and the inaugural flight is expected soon.

Sources in the Department of Tourism told The Hindu: “We could not launch the services in March but are fully prepared for it this month.”

The date of launch has not been announced as the department is waiting for the availability of a Central Minister for the inauguration.

Four circuits

Heli-tourism, the sources said, is expected to help travellers who want to cover more places in a short period, and those who could not undertake long journeys, such as the differently-abled and senior citizens.

The four tourism circuits identified for the heli-tourism are: Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole and Bijapur under the ‘heritage circuit'; Mangalore, Udupi, Kundapur, Gokarna and Karwar under the ‘coastal circuit'; Shimoga, Chickmagalur and Hassan under the ‘Malnad circuit'; and Kollur, Udupi, Hornadu, Sringeri, Karkala, Dharmasthala and Kukke Subramanya under the ‘religious circuit'.

The service will be launched from Hampi.

“The launch in other circuits will follow, based on the response from tourists, especially international tourists,” Tourism Director Vishwanath Reddy said.

In a chat with The Hindu, Mr. Reddy said the department's role in the project was restricted to developing infrastructure such as helipads and facilities for travellers, including rest lounges and accommodation. The New Delhi-based OSS Air Management was operating the service.

Tariff would be fixed by the company and the department had no role in deciding the cost of travel, he clarified.

Heli-tourism, according to the sources in tourism industry, may get a good response with Karnataka Tourism officials stepping up efforts to bring tourism back on track this year. Arrivals of international tourists had been affected because of the economic downturn and the swine-flu scare.

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