BY A CORRESPONDENT
October 4, 2006
When it comes to tourism, Kerala leads the way. Heli-tourism, an area that has been lying untapped in this high potential area, is all set to take off with the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) inking an agreement with Bangalore-based Deccan Aviation to launch ‘heli-tourism’ in the state.
The KTDC, along with Deccan, has designed packages exclusively for the new feature. One package connects
Kovalam- Kumarakam-Thekkady-Munnar- Kochi -Thiruvananthapuram and will extend up to 7 nights and 8 days and will cover KTDC’s Hotel Samudra in Kovalam, Waterscapes and Houseboat in Kumarakom, Lake Palace in Thekkady and the like. Five tourists can take a flight at a cost of Rs 5 lakh. Yet another package the KTDC has come up with is the called “Bird’s Eye View” and would cover beaches, backwaters and hill stations at a cost Rs 35,000 for a 30 minute flight .
Deccan would deploy a Bell 206 L3 helicopter for service between tourist destinations of the state. The Bell Helicopter Texron- manufactured helicopter which would be deployed to carry out the heli-tourism operations runs on a Rolls Royce 20 series C30 engine and has a cruise speed of 100 kts (185 kmph). The helicopter has a seating capacity of six passengers plus one pilot and in case of a medical emergency, the chopper would carry the patient plus a medical attendant and the pilot, according to Deccan officials .
With the agreement having signed it is expected that most of the high spending and time-sensitive tourists would be provided with the necessary mobility and flexibility to maximize the value for time spent by them in Kerala.
Apart from connecting destinations, heli-tourism operations would also tap the potential of medical tourism, which is on a high growth plane in Kerala. Deccan Aviation would talk to local hospital groups and form tie-ups with them on the lines of the association the company has with Manipal Hospitals in Karnataka and Escorts in Delhi, it is learnt.