KARNATAKA

DA, KSTDC tie up for `helitours'

BANGALORE Nov. 7. Those with lots of money and little time for sight-seeing can now fly in and out of tourist and heritage spots in the State.

While "helitours" are not new -- charters like Deccan Aviation (DA) doing such trips for over four years -- there has been no formal tie-up with a State agency. But that happened on Thursday when DA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC). This, said the Managing Director of DA, G.R.Gopinath, was a first. The company hopes to sign similar MoUs with Maharashtra, Rajasthan and other States.

Coincidentally, the MoU comes a day after the Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, urged the KSTDC to seek local and international tie-ups to boost tourism.

At the function, the Managing Director of KSTDC, I.M.Vittalamurthy, said that in seven weeks, they would "identify and prepare" a helipad map. "We will involve deputy commissioners and taluk magistrates. In fact, the `Karnataka Traveller' released on Wednesday lists the deputy commissioners' numbers as `emergency helplines,'" Mr. Vittalamurthy said and added that students could be given subsidised rates for the helitours.

The helipads will be in places such as Hampi, Belur, Halebid, Badami, Aihole, Pattadakkal etc. The KSTDC will maintain them, make sure the helipads are secure, and also be the "tour operators." The DA will charter the tourists.

While DA officials said that the revenue-sharing arrangement were yet to be finalised, a release said that KSTDC would get a seven per cent commission on all charters received through it and flown through DA. The DA says Bangalore (all inclusive) rates will be Rs. 55,000 per flying hour. It will, for instance, take 30 minutes (to and fro) to the Cauvery Fishing Camp from Bangalore City. Right now, DA has 10 helicopters, one in Jakkur. The company will get 10 more next year.

The Minister of State for Tourism, D.B.Inamdar, and the KSTDC Chairperson, Manorama Madhwaraj, were present.

For more details, contact DA on 856 7378/79; 856 7523/24.

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