Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 27:
Hoping to cash in on international flight connectivity and the upcoming mega religious festival of Nabakalebara, the Odisha Government is planning to double the tourist footfall in the state.
A decision on this count was taken today in the first meeting of the State Tourism Promotion Council at the Secretariat presided by Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister highlighted the achievements of his government and pulled up the Union Government for cutting down on central assistance for the sector.
“My Government has resolved to make Odisha one of the preferred tourist destinations both in the country and in the international map. I am happy that the tourist footfall is showing an increasing trend. It has witnessed a growth of 12% in 2014 compared to the previous year. It has been a matter of concern that the Central Financial Assistance to the State in the tourism sector has reduced. However, funds will not be a constraint for critical tourism infrastructure and our Government is committed to provide all required support,” said Naveen.
It may be noted that the government would need to take tourist footfalls, which at present is about 1 crores per annum, to about 2 crores to double it. The State Government has targeted to increase foreign tourist arrival to about 2 lakhs during the next year.
In the meanwhile, the tourist arrival to the State has been increased by 12 percent from 2013 to 2014. It was 98.66 lakh in 2013 and 1.08 crores in 2014.
To achieve the objective of doubling the footfall, the State Government is creating a brand image of Odisha Tourism, both in India and abroad through vigorous media campaign. Plans are afoot to deploy professional agencies to promote tourism in print, electronic and cyber media, travel fairs and road shows.
In order to leave lasting impression on the tourists, the government further intends to develop all tourist spots as safe, secure and clean. To make it a reality, the administration plans to set up tourist police stations at Puri, Konark, Dhauli, Lingaraj, Nandankanan, Satapada, Chandipur and Gopalpur. Besides, in order to provide a better experience to visitors at state guest houses, it plans to bring improvements to OTDC facilities and operations in PPP mode.
The meeting was also attended by Tourism Minister Ashok Panda, Commerce & Transport Minister Ramesh Ch. Majhi, Chief Secretary, Development Commissioner, ACS Finance and other members of the Council.