India's first heli-tourism in luxury cruise ships

Now, limited time, but high fun for cruise passengers

A view of cruise vessel Aida Vita and helicopter, at New Mangalore Port. DH Photo

For the first time in the country, heli-tourism services has been introduced by the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) to ferry passengers of luxury cruise ships, anchored at its port, to nearby tourist destinations.

NMPT chairman A V Ramana said 16 passengers from the cruise vessel scheduled to arrive at the port on November 12 had booked the helicopter to travel to Bekal fort in North Kerala.

There are also demands to visit 1,000-pillar basadi in Moodbidri and Sringeri. The future destinations proposed are Dharmasthala, Kukke Subrahmanya, Belur and Halebeedu.

The five-seater helicopter services are provided by Chipsan Aviation. In the beginning, only an aerial view of the tourist destinations will be provided to the passengers.

In future, there are plans to drop the passengers at the destinations and bring them back to the New Mangalore Port (NMP). The chairman emphasised on the need to boost heli-linkage between Mangaluru and other tourist places within a few-kilometre radius of the port.

Many cruise vessels arrive at the port in the morning and sail towards the next port by evening. The passengers do not have much time and the roads are not in good condition to travel comfortably to the destinations. Thus, heli-tourism service will help them, he said. Once heli-tourism picks up, tourism is expected to increase by two times.

The NMP will have two helipads. A 16-seater helicopter by Kairali Aviation is likely to start its services in future, he said. Kairali Aviation has offered to provide connectivity to Chikkamagaluru as well.

He said there are around 1,500 people on each cruise vessel at any given time. On an average, a passenger spends around $100 per head per visit, which in turn goes to village industries, roadside vendors, pre-paid auto and taxi drivers.

"When a cruise vessel berths at the port, indirect employment is created for 300 to 400 people," he emphasised.

“We normally take them to cashew factory at Baikampady, rice mill at Urwa and the Central market and fish market. Later, they ask for destinations like Gokarnanatha temple and Mangaladevi temple,” said an auto driver

 

The fare

15 minutes of local aerial view - Rs 6,000/head

For 1-hr travel to and from Bekal fort - Rs 25,000/head

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