State to tap in on aerial tourism by offering daylong packages, which will include three beaches, four forts for starters; talks are currently on between private players
If everything falls into place, then by year-end Mumbaikars will be able to travel to Konkan, visit its beaches and forts, and be back by nightfall.
The impregnable Murud-Janjira Fort. Talks are on between Pawan Hans and MTDC to offer chopper service between Mumbai and Murud. File pic
In order to capitalise on the growing popularity of aerial tourism, talks are underway between private players and Civil Aviation Ministry to promote heli-tourism in the state. Officials said a proposal is being mooted to start an 18-seater amphibian plane service to connect the beaches and forts.
The service will be a joint venture between Aman Aviation and Aerospace Solutions and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The plane will leave Juhu airport at 8 am and halt at beaches in Harihareshwar, Guhagar and Ganpatipule. Sources claimed the daylong package includes facilities like snacks. Landing time at Juhu is 5.30 pm.
“The key factor in launching this service is the support offered by the state and Maritime Board in providing landing permission and a small jetty for passengers to embark and disembark at convenient locations on three beaches and four forts. This will help in covering the beaches at a faster pace,” said R N Johri, managing director, Aman Aviation and Aerospace Solutions.
Similarly, Pawan Hans too has plans to offer joyrides to tourists, for which it plans to offer choppers services to Murud-Janjira fort in Raigad district. Sanjay Kumar, general manager, Pawan Hans (Western Region), said, “Pawan Hans, along with MTDC, has planned a recce for this project in the current week.”
Commenting on the issue, a tourism expert stated that once the state provides basic infrastructure, it would attract more players. This in turn will bring down the prices and benefit tourists. “There are nearly 69 sea forts in Maharashtra. While 29 are under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the state government looks after the rest. There is enough water around these forts for an amphibian plane to land,” he added.
Starting yesterday, Aman and IRCTC started offering Mumbaikars short aerial rides for 20 to 30 minutes within city limits. Booking for these rides needs to be four days in advance on the IRCTC website. A single joyride will cost Rs 2,599 — starting from Juhu to either east or south Mumbai and back.