Post-pandemic boost to Kodagu as helicopter tourism kicks in

Locals gather to witness the heli-tourism initiative taking off, at Kakkabe in Kodagu. The chopper of a private operator that landed with three tourists can be seen in the backdrop.  

Even as successive governments continue to dilly-dally over launching heli-tourism for high-end tourists despite umpteen promises, Kodagu has taken the first step towards giving a start to the initiative post-pandemic with local stakeholders taking the lead and kick starting the much-talked-about initiative.

A group of tourists from Bengaluru landed in a chopper at a village to explore Coorg’s splendour, staying in a resort located close to one of the highest points in Kodagu - Tadiandamol. These tourists, instead of taking the 6-hour drive to Madikeri from the IT Hub, chose to fly by a chopper owned and run by a private operator to reach the hill station.

In fact, Kodagu was also identified along with Mysuru for developing heli-ports by the Tourism Department which did not take off. However, an entrepreneur in the hospitality sector in Kodagu, Apparanda Sagar Ganapathy, who runs a resort at Kakkabe, coordinated with the chopper operator to ferry guests to his property where a helicopter landing facility was established recently at the resort to facilitate heli-tourism.

Mr. Ganapathy, who is also the president of Association for Rural Tourism (ART), says the potential of rural tourism remains unexplored as corporates and well-heeled tourists are keen to explore the life and lifestyles in villages. Heli-tourism can bring tourists who can afford chopper rides to the remotest corners of Kodagu to experience the coffee land’s unmatched beauty and the Coorg villages.

Villagers turned up in large numbers to witness the heli-tourism initiative. Kakkabe Panchayat president Kaliyanda Sampan and other locals were present to greet tourists.

Corporate executives can have their meetings amidst nature instead of in multi-storied structures. They can fly in by chopper, have a meeting, spend some valuable time and head back to their destinations. Infrastructure can help promote such kinds of tourism, the stakeholders believe.

The stakeholders in the hotel and hospitality sector in Kodagu, including ART and Kodagu Tourism Association, are also in the process of identifying infrastructure where choppers could land, bringing tourists, and promoting heli-tourism in a big way. Another resort is also in the process establishing the chopper landing space, foreseeing its potential, he said.

Kodagu has many luxury resorts, which, according to the stakeholders, are getting back their clients with the opening of tourism post-pandemic. But the mid-range resorts are lacking clientele with corporates, particularly those from the IT industry, are yet to return to their offices and continue to work from their homes.

“Before COVID-19, we used to get groups of 25-30 coming and staying in resorts during weekends or holidays. Such trips have stopped for one and half years due to the pandemic. Until the offices start working like before and schools and colleges function normally, tourism recovery may prolong,” Mr. Sagar said.

Unlike other places, Kodagu is predominantly covered by undulating hills with thick forest cover. There is a need to establish a safe environment for the landing and taking off of the choppers. “If we provide infrastructure like heli ports or helipads, more operators can show interest in bringing tourists by choppers, thus driving the tourist economy and helping revive the sector,” the travel operators said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 11:23:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/post-pandemic-boost-to-kodagu-as-helicopter-tourism-kicks-in/article36726788.ece

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