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A helicopter service has been inaugurated at Kochi to cater to its large influx of cruise tourist arrivals. The chopper, whose first flight was in November, will ferry visitors from Willingdon Island—the heart of Kochi Port—to the hill station of Munnar, and the nature park of Jatayu Earth’s Center in Chadayamangalam.
Kochi Port is one of India’s top cruise destinations, having registered 49 international cruise ship arrivals (with 62,753 passengers!) in 2018-19. The helicopter service, run by Chipsan Aviation in association with the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), Kerala Tourism and Greenix Village, is meant to make a cruise tourist’s itinerary more exciting when arriving at the port.
A DTPC official told The Times of India that these tourists normally spend three to five hours in Kochi after the ships dock at the port. The new service—priced at between Rs 60,000 to 70,000 per person, depending on the trip—is meant to provide a quick aerial view of Kerala before they head back to their ships.
M Beena, Chairperson of the Kochi Port Trust, revealed that 25 percent of cruise tourist arrivals in Kochi are repeat visitors and that more initiatives to spruce up their stay are in the works. Currently, a chopper ride will only be available during the arrival of these cruise ships, but Kochi Port also plans to unveil a new cruise terminal by February 2020.
Kochi Port is a natural port with two wharves. Its operations are split between Willingdon Island, which is the largest artificial island in India, and the smaller island of Vallarpadam. Both islands are within the Vembanad Lake, which spans several districts in Kerala and is the longest lake in India.
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