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Goa's aviation tourism plan hits turbulence

Posted on Feb 06 2014 | IANS

Panaji, Feb 6 : Goa's plan to give a facelift to the state's tourism profile appears to have hit turbulence as the union civil aviation ministry shot down several ideas put forward by the state government.

Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar told reporters at the state secretariat Thursday that the civil aviation ministry has not agreed to his ministry's plan to start heli-tourism, sea plane and amphibian tours for the more than three million tourists who visit the state every year.

"We had given permission to three private agencies to start these three projects through the public private partnership (PPP) mode, but despite our permission the civil aviation ministry has rejected the proposals," Parulekar said.

Mumbai-based private aviation player Maritime Energy Heli Air Services (MEHAIR) was selected by the Goa tourism ministry to develop a seaplane service in the state whose beaches open out to the Arabian Sea.

Pawan Hans, which specialises in running helicopter services, had won the state government's bid to start a heli-tourism circuit, with the Goa government having already chosen two sites for developing helipads.

Another firm, Dark Bus, was licenced by the state government to develop an amphibian tourism circuit covering coastal areas as well as use the state's rivers as aqua runways for its operation.

Parulekar said the union civil aviation ministry has thrown a spanner in the works, one that could upset Goa's efforts to diversify its tourism offerings from just beaches and cheap liquor to other exotic options.

"We had even given these three firms a letter of recommendation which was to be presented to the civil aviation ministry but they refused them the licence outright," the minister said.

He said the air services could have begun in October at the beginning of the state's tourism season.

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