By Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government is leaving no stone unturned to project the state as a sports destination ahead of men’s hockey World Cup to be held here in November and December.
While projecting Bhubaneswar as the country’s sports capital, the government also aims to attract tourists from the country and abroad.
It has launched several campaigns across India and several countries to showcase Odisha as a tourist destination, taking advantage of the hockey world cup.
The hockey world cup is slated to be held at the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium here from November 28 to December 16.
“The sports and tourism promotion will go together. We have decided to promote Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup and popularise Odisha tourism in the country and abroad as well,” Sports Minister Chandra Sarathi Behera told IANS.
He said a promotional road campaign would begin in the country, which would have 17 stops in all corners of the country, including six metropolitan cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
After starting a bus campaign in London to promote the world cup, the government has planned to advertise on some buses with a message, “Odisha by Morning, Hockey by Evening” in some other countries.
“We have planned to start the bus campaign in Sydney in Australia, Munich in Germany and Malaysia. It will showcase the state as an exciting tourist and sporting destination,” said Sports and Tourism secretary Vishal Dev.
Notably, Odisha is the title partner for the Hockey Men’s World Cup while Odisha Tourism is the host partner of the event. The government is also sponsoring the national men’s and women’s hockey squads in the senior and junior categories.
“We are perhaps the only state who is pushing the agenda of sports tourism in its true essence. We want to make sure we push the hockey world cup campaign in every tourism event we participate,” said Vishal.
Recently, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched “My Heart Beats for Hockey” campaign here at Kalinga Stadium. This campaign aims at spreading the passion and love for the game of hockey.
The tourism department is expecting a footfall of around 40,000 foreign tourists during the Hockey World Cup.
For accommodating the foreign guests, the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has signed a memorandum of understanding with OYO Rooms.
As part of the agreement, OYO will increase the inventory of rooms on the OYO platform and will try to take on board the hotels and homestays in Odisha to accommodate the enhanced demand during the world cup.
Meanwhile, preparations in the capital city are in full swing to make the event a grand success.
“We have successfully organised the Asian Athletics Championships 2017 within a limited period. We will use our experience to make the hockey event a spectacular one that will enhance the image of the state as a sports destination,” said the Sports Minister.
The renovation work of the Kalinga Hockey Stadium has entered its final leg. The capacity of the stadium has been increased to 15,000.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) have started the beautification work of the city. The civic body has commissioned artists for wall painting themed after hockey and its players.
As many as 300 new buses in two phases will be deployed in the city.
Hockey enthusiasts will also be able to witness the action in all major parts of the city. The civic body has identified several public congregation places where large LED screens will be installed during the tournament.
Notably, Bhubaneswar has played host to major international sports events in past. It organised FIH Champions Trophy 2014, 22nd Asian Athletics Championships 2017, Hockey World League Finals 2017 and Hero Super Cup 2018. (IANS)