Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jan 10:
Despite having tranquil beach, towering temples and several other attractions around the pilgrim town of Puri in Odisha, the tourists have turned the other way.
Several infrastructure development projects were undertaken during the Nabakalebara year to attract tourists to the state and the pilgrim town in particular. Adequate arrangements were made to house the tourists during this period. However, foreign tourists were not enthused enough to spend nights here, even for over a day, reports said.
Around 2245 tourists from USA, Russia, Ukraine, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates and other countries visited the town during the Nabakalebara year. Among the visitors, tourists from USA topped the list with 194 followed by 174 from the UK.
According to reports, around 6400 foreign tourists visited Puri and Konark last year as against over 7, 000 visitors who thronged the town the previous year.
As per official figures, the number of foreigners visiting Odisha went up to 64,719 in 2012, 66,675 in 2013 and 71,426 in 2014.
The state government anticipated the figures to improve given the publicity for the mega event of Lord Jagannath at the world famous 12th century shrine. But, it failed to draw the travellers towards Odisha.
One of the major reasons why the tourists are not willing to visit Puri is the deteriorating hygiene standards and security concerns.
The Puri beach was considered as one of the cleanest beaches in the country. However, the waste water discharge to the sea and poor garbage management have added to the concerns. Besides this, the noise pollution level has increased significantly, a tourist expressed.
The Penthakata-Chakratirtha Road area seems disquiet and the quality of service in the hotels in the area is not up to the mark, an Australian tourist said.
Some of the guests have expressed security concerns and the high tariff of hotels which has made them think over their travel plans to this town.