Odisha Tourism charts tourism promotion plans
Archana Sharma – New Delhi
Odisha Tourism has plans to organise roadshows and cultural festivals in South-East Asian countries, following the Look East policy, to promote Buddhist tourism. “We have identified many countries like Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Laos, Korea, Cambodia, Myanmar, etc, for promoting the Buddhist heritage of Odisha. We want to take advantage of the strong cultural linkages with these countries,” stated Ashok Chandra Panda, minister of tourism and culture, Government of Odisha. He also informed that the state government is open to working closely with other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to promote Buddhist heritage. The state received about 70,000 foreign tourists in 2013, of which, 10,000 visited Buddhist circuits.
Talking about the other initiatives to promote tourism, Dr Arabinda Padhee, secretary, tourism, Odisha, stated, “Odisha government is working on installing a 100 ft Lord Buddha statue at Deuli in Jajpur district, for which we have already acquired 39 acres of land and another 112 acres for ambience, landscaping and other purposes will be acquired.” The work has been allocated to Hindustan Construction Company by the state tourism department.
Odisha tourism department has also identified 340 places which are frequented by tourists which include areas of eco-tourism, tribal, wildlife and religious nature. “We’ll be ensuring cleanliness and safety and security of tourists, as creating the infrastructure and brand building is a priority right now.” Panda also informed that a dedicated tourism police, with a separate dress code, would soon be present at tourist spots and facilitation centres for tourists will be set up at all destinations. The state tourism department has also signed a MoU with India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) to set up light and sound shows at Udayagiri–Khandagiri caves, Dhauli and Konark.
The state is also looking at enhancing the air connectivity and is in talks with many airline companies, both domestic and international. Panda said that international carriers like flydubai, AirAsia, Silk Air have shown interest to fly to Bhubaneswar. “We are currently in talks with Air India for a flight connection from Bhubaneswar to Phuket via Port Blair,” he said. Odisha has also reduced the VAT on ATF from 20 per cent to five per cent to attract more domestic carriers into Bhubaneswar.