Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 17:
Foreign tourist inflow to Odisha is on a steady rise after Biju Patnaik International Airport here started handing international flight operations.
As per information provided by the Tourist Department, as much as 60 percent of the seats of the Air India flight from Dubai have been booked by foreign tourists. While more than 150 foreign tourists have travelled to the state in the six days since the operation started, it is expected to go up further during the Nabakalebara.
Apart from Air India, seats of five other flights operated by private carriers have also been filled. Overall 80 percent of the seats of all scheduled flights till Saturday to the airport have been filled.
The state government has stepped up preparations to address the needs of the tourists. It has pressed into service 30 taxis to ferry the passengers only to Puri. Information kiosks have also been set up at the airport to help the tourists.
It may be noted that the overall foreign passenger inflow to the state has increased sharply in the past three months due to Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath. More than 7, 000 foreign tourists have visited the state after the Banajaga Yatra started on March 29. More than 5, 000 of them visited various Nabakalebara related spots and Puri. While the state witnessed about 2000 tourists in June itself, it is expected to go even higher by the end of this month.
“We have set up counters at the railway station and the airport to keep a tab on the number of foreign tourists. These counters also provide information to the tourists as and when they need it. Between July 1 and 15, more than 800 visitors have thronged the state by air. About 300 of them are from foreign countries like Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia, Srilanka, England and Japan etc,” said a senior official of Tourist Department.
As per statistics provided by Tourist Department for the past three years, in 2012; 593 foreign visitors visited the state in June and 243 visited in July and 41 visited in August. In 2013; 217 visited in June, 355 in July and 156 in August by air. In 2014; about 300 visited in June, 460 in July and 180 in August.