Proposed Heliports Create New Tourism Buzz
Kerala’s infrastructure development seems to be taking wing with the proposed plan by Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) to set up heliports in major cities as well as tourist & pilgrim centres. With helicopter services criss-crossing its cerulean skies, Kerala is likely to see an improvement in connectivity and a subsequent rise in visits by the well-heeled tourist/pilgrims, celebrities and businessmen. The plan will give impetus to infrastructure development in a state where land is at a premium and road development is often mired in land acquisition problems.
The Prospects of Heli-tourism: Heli-tourism has had a positive impact on tourism across the globe. Countries like New Zealand, South Africa and Kenya have banked extensively on heli-tourism to tap new growth opportunities. In India, the picture has been a mixed one. Heli-tourism has been extremely successful in niche areas like religious tourism. Shrines like Vaishnavo Devi, Amarnath and Kedarnath have seen a surge in tourist arrivals with the introduction of helicopter services. Heli-tourism has also been popular among adventure seekers and statistics indicate that there has been an increase in the number of tourist arrivals at destinations like Solan in Himachal Pradesh with the introduction of helicopter services. Tourism experts also point out that the availability of helicopters gives a chance for the industry to exploit the potential of far flung areas. The North East is a perfect example. The use of helicopters has resulted in more tourists visiting otherwise inaccessible places in states like Sikkim.
KSIDC’s ambitious plan to build heliports should thus help take Kerala tourism to a higher level.
Other Potential Uses:
• Helpful for medical emergencies, accidents, evacuations: Over the past several years, the health sector in Kerala has been developing at a very impressive rate. State-of-the-art hospitals have been attracting patients from not just the state but across the globe. The presence of a helicopter service to transport medical emergencies will result in greater confidence in the state’s medical system. Helicopter service is the sole medium for evacuation of people from remote areas in the event of natural calamities like flood, landslide, earthquake, etc. The evacuation of people from the recent devastating floods at Kedarnath is a typical example.
• Improve connectivity in areas where transport infrastructure is weak: Better connectivity via helicopters will allow the state to explore the growth potential of far flung areas of the state that are presently difficult to reach.
• Boost trade by providing quick transport of perishable commodities: Agro-industries are a major part of Kerala’s economy. The thriving helicopter service will allow quick transportation of perishable commodities, resulting in lesser wastage and greater savings.
• High Productivity: Provide alternate and quick mode of transport for high level executives, industry leaders and government officials resulting in higher productivity.
The KSIDC Project
Land Identified: KSIDC has identified suitable land owned by the Guruvayoor Devasom at Chavakkad for the Guruvayoor heliport project. For the Kozhikode project, suitable land has been identified within five km from the city railway station. The proposed land is owned by state government and is presently under the custody of Kerala State Textile Corporation.
The Heliport Layout: The heliports will have clearly demarcated areas for operations & parking, and dispersal/apron area for embarkation/disembarkation of passengers & cargo. An air traffic control centre, weather forecasting station, and arrival/departure terminals with waiting lounge, recreation facilities and vehicle parking areas are included. Besides, there will be MRO facilities for the helicopters, its aero engines and accessories.
The Heliport Specifications: The specifications would be as per the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) norms for all aspects of Heliport planning & infrastructure.
Other Facilities: The heliport can offer facilities like customer lounge facilities; chauffeur, taxi and local private hire car services; helicopter charter packages and secure customer car parking.