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Heli-tourism project to come soon

MANGALORE: The much-awaited heli-tourism project in Karnataka will shortly take to the skies. Mooted first by G Janardhan Reddy, minister for tourism, during one of his earlier visits to this coastal city, this project had largely remained confined to several rounds of discussions.

However, Reddy said on Saturday that the project was on the right line and tenders for this project would be awarded on April 1 after they are opened on March 25.

Interacting with reporters during his visit to Pilikula Nisargadhama near here, Reddy said heli-tourism would operate from three bases at Hampi, Mangalore and Mysore. Process of creating necessary infrastructure for this project such as passenger lounge, restaurant, rest rooms and toilets would be taken up prior to launching this project. Helicopters with a capacity of nine passengers including the crew would be used for this, he noted.

In an endeavour to promote tourism, the ministry has taken the lead to provide taxis at subsidised rates to 1,000 SC/ST youths. "The ministry will credit 50% of the vehicle cost upfront to the beneficiary identified, who in turn has to bear five per cent cost and raise the rest as a bank loan," he said. This will not only help create employment opportunities but also promote tourism related activities, Reddy explained.

Further, he said, Bellary and Mangalore will shortly get branches of Indian Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), making them the 11th and 12th such facilities in India and the third in the state after Bangalore. "These IIHMs will help youth explore career opportunities in hotel management and catering industry," he said adding that the district administrations in the two places would have to identify and handover the requisite land to IIHM.

Reddy, who is also the infrastructure development minister, said government is taking the lead in developing tourism-related infrastructure on PPP basis. Plans are afoot to develop 10,000 kms of state highways as well as airports under this. This is in addition to 3,000 kms of SH developed similarly and a ring road in Bellary. People investing in tourism projects up to Rs 1 crore would receive subsidy of 25 and 35% in urban and rural areas.

Reddy, who later took part in the Nethravathi -- Jodukere Kambala organised by Pikilula Nisargadhama Society and the district administration announced an annual grant of Rs 5 lakh for holding the event. He directed the administration to complete the paperwork for this year's grant. Reddy later inaugurated eight rooms of a resort constructed by Jungle Lodges and Resort as well as laid foundation stone for next batch of resort rooms.