Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 22:
In yet another populist move, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today ordered implementation of a scheme to facilitate pilgrimages by senior citizens of all religions to places of pilgrimage both inside and outside the state.
Patnaik issued the directive during his review and planning for the coming years of the Culture and Tourism department at the state secretariat here today.
Pilgrimage tours will be arranged through trains and buses for senior citizens of the state, said an official release.
Patnaik advised extensive development of infrastructure in the tourism sector since the state has witnessed a 12 percent growth in inflow of tourists.
It was decided at the meeting to take steps to attract foreign tourists in large numbers.
In order to attract flight operators to operate international flights from Biju Patnaik International Airport, the state government has taken steps for reduction of VAT on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) from five percent to zero percent, which will be implemented very soon.
The Chief Minister asked the department to focus on tourism development setting the highest professional standards and create adequate employment opportunities for the youth in the state.
Besides, the Chief Minister directed authorities to fill up posts of district culture officers in each district. The number of such officers is presently 13 in the state.
The meeting decided to bring Odia Bhasa Pratisthan under the administration of Culture department from School and Mass Education department.