Home ECONOMY Experts call for more investment in tourism

Experts call for more investment in tourism


Reported by Sandeep Pattnaik

Bhubaneswar, Jan 3:

Odisha provides ample opportunities for next generation entrepreneurs to invest in the tourism and hospitality sector and has all that it takes to be an international tourist destination, experts opined here on the 3rd day of the seven-day long Odisha International MSME trade fair on Friday.

The industry, which is growing at an Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of around 15% that is highest among all other sectors, is going to enjoy fabulous growth prospects, almost double its present size, in the coming 10 years. The sector contributes almost 8.6% to the GDP and 10% to the total manpower recruitment in the country, industry honchos saidKonark Temple

By 2020, the tourism and hospitality sector is set to clock a business volume of $ 6.3 trillion, surpassing even the fastest growing old economy sector of IT (32 billion US dollar). The sector has already been categorized as one of the priority sectors as per the Orissa Industrial Policy Resolution, 2007, experts said during the MSME conclave.

Besides, the sector aims to provide employment to around 2.5 crore people in the country both direct and indirect during the 12th five-year plan, in addition to the already engaged 2.49 crore manpower at present, experts opined. For every Rs 10 lakh investment, the sector creates around 78 jobs in comparison to an average of 45-50 jobs in case of other sectors.

“By 2019, about 4 crore people are going to be engaged in the sector,” Director Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) S Lenka said during the conclave adding, “Tourism is the only sector, which provides huge scope for employment in case of both unskilled to highly-skilled labourers.”

Tourism industry in Odisha witnessed a growth of around 8.77% and 9.25% in inflow of domestic and foreign tourists during 2008 to 2012 into the state. However, this is far from satisfactory considering the abundance of places of tourist interest, including eco-tourism sites within the state, President Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) and CMD of Swosti group of hotels JK Mohanty said.

According to the data compiled by the state tourism department, there are 330 identified tourist centres in Odisha. While around 63.58 lakhs domestic and 43, 966 foreign tourists visited the state in the year 2008, the figure witnessed a quantum jump and touched 90.53 lakh and 64,719 respectively in 2012. But, on the contrary, the growth-rate in case of inbound foreign travellers to the state has drastically reduced from 20.4% in 2011 to 6.58% in 2012, Mohanty added.

“Odisha’s share in inbound foreign travellers into the country is set to increase to 1% from the existing 0.6%,” Mohanty said.

Several factors like the absence of international air connectivity to the state, lack of proper connectivity to some remote eco-tourism sites, inadequate number of luxury and high segment star hotels are the prime reasons for the dismal trend in foreign tourist inflows into the state, he added.

“Odisha needs more entrepreneurs to come forward to invest in the hospitality sector. There is a requirement of around 5,000 additional rooms with an aim to double the capacity in the hospitality sector by 2016, keeping in view the gap between demand and supply,” the president HRAO informed.

Promotion of aqua and off-land tourism, besides inland tourism, is vital in the state of Odisha having a large coast-line and many marine tourist sites, said J K Rath, an entrepreneur working in the field of aqua tourism.

“Indian Recreational Boating industry is hovering around Rs 300-500 crore at present, which is set to achieve a scale of around Rs 5,000 crore within the next 5 to 7 years,” he said adding, “development of water sports, water bodies, leisure boating and house boats can be made by making investment which ranges from a minimum of Rs 1-2 lakh to a maximum of Rs 2 crores.”

Experts also discussed promotion of ecotourism and village tourism during the seminar. Many skill development initiatives for the budding entrepreneurs have been rolled out by the centre and the state to fully equip them to initiate their start-ups in the tourism and hospitality sector, as envisaged in the Odisha Tourism Policy, 2013, said experts on the occasion.

Also the OTP 2013 eyes to convene around 30 to 40 domestic and international road shows to create awareness among the existing and prospective entrepreneurs on a wider scale, they added.