Reported by Sandeep Pattnaik
Bhubaneswarm May 31:
Odisha needs a total investment of about Rs 2500 crores in tourism sector in next five years to upgrade infrastructure, to increase the tourist inflow to the state, says a HRAO [Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha] report.
In the hospitality industry itself, investment to the tune of around Rs 2200 crore is required to be spent, i.e. Rs 1200 crore on construction of about 4000 rooms in 3-star category hotels and Rs 1000 crore on 1000 rooms of 5-star category hotels of rupees one crore each, the report said.
At least Rs 30 crores per year should be spent on tourism promotion campaigns abroad and also in other states within the country. Besides, a sum of Rs 30 crore has to be spent on advertising and brand building of the Odisha tourism in different print and electronic media per year, according to the report.
“Land, which is a major part of the project cost, plays an important role in project development in the tourism sector. At least 500 acres of land in Special Tourism Zones [STZ] in each district should be identified and allotted to prospective entrepreneurs willing to set up hotel chains in the state,” Chairman of HRAO Sri J K Mohanty said on Friday while unveiling the report during a felicitation ceremony of Ashok Panda, taken charge as the new tourism minister of the state.
“Present hotel rooms available in Odisha are about 1319 rooms under the classified category and 26531 rooms under the unclassified category,” Sri Mohanty said. “The state needs to set up about additional 5000 rooms in the hospitality sector, which will give direct and indirect employment to around 50, 000 people and can generate income of about Rs 3,000 crores per annum combinedly in both 3-star and 5-star category.
According to a report of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, the 12th five year plan has proposed an investment of Rs 23,000 crore for the tourism sector that would help creation of around 25.9 million jobs in this sector and foreign exchange earnings of 15.7 billion dollars up to the year ending 2016.
“Despite Odisha having endowed with a long coastline of 480 kms and well known for its rich mineral resources, the tourism sector lags behind compared to other states like Gujarat. Unfortunately, beautiful places like- Chilika Lake, Satkosia Gorge, Similipal, Bhitarkanika, Samuka Beach, Satapada, and Sonpur Beach in Ganjam district etc, have no hotels available for tourists,” tourism minister Ashok Panda said.
Sri Panda further went on to add that, the state government is committed for the growth of tourism in the state. “Though Bhubaneswar has already been declared as an International Airport, but the industry is waiting for international flights to start operating to and from Bhubaneswar.” He said.
Initiatives like ‘Odisha Travel Mart’ from this year will propagate the state’s tourism by inviting domestic and international tour operators, travel agents, travel journalists, travel photographers etc and showing them around the state for giving a big boost to the tourism potential of the state, according to Sri Panda.
“For promotion of eco-tourism sites, the Forest department of the Government of Odisha has decided to handover all its guest accommodations to the Odisha Forest Development Corporation [OFDC], which would collaborate with Odisha Tourism Development Corporation [OTDC] to promote tourism in the state.”
Besides, five domestic road shows at Varanasi, Hyderabad, Goa, Raipur and Chennai and two international road shows at Thailand and Cambodia have been conducted to showcase the brand image of Odisha tourism to attract more inbound tourists to Odisha, he added.
“Government is all set to take a decision to start the ‘Samuka’ project at the earliest and invite entrepreneurs to put up resorts there,” the minister said.