In a bid to boost tourism in the State, a move is in the offing to throw open ecotourism destinations to visitors from October 1.
While there are a large number of eco-tourism destinations in the State, in the first phase, at least eight such centers are being planned to open for tourists, officials said.
However, the State Government will take a decision in this regard, a senior official in State Wildlife Headquarters said.
State Wildlife Headquarters has requested the State Government for opening of eco-tourism destinations from October 1 onwards in a phased manner.
These ecotourism destinations include Dangamal (Bhitarkanika), Deras (Chandaka), Mangaljodi (Chilika), Badmul (Mahanadi/Satkosia) Debrigarh (Hirakud), Daringbadi (Baliguda), Mandasaru (Baliguda), and Chotei, Tarava and Baghamunda (Satkosia).
Chief Wildlife Warden (CCW) Hari Shankar Upadhyay has requested Additional Chief Secretary Forest and Environment Dr. Mona Sharma to consider a proposal in this regard.
Recently, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy chaired a meeting to promote Eco-Tourism and Eco-Retreat in the State.
In the meeting it was decided to open the eco-tourism destinations in a phased manner.
While the State Government has allowed hotels and restaurants to open for the public, opening up of these eco-tourism destinations will boost tourism, and more footfalls are expected in these destinations.
As a matter of fact Odisha Tourism is focusing on Ecotourism and plans to make Odisha as a “hot spot” for responsible travel to natural areas of the State, while conserving the environment and sustaining the well-being of local people.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic since March all Eco-tour properties have been shut down, and now Odisha Ecotourism has started training of managers and community members on different aspects of COVID management before opening.
As such since launching of Odisha Ecotourism in 2016, booking is through online portal www. ecotourodisha .com. Cash booking or on-spot booking is very minimally restricted to off- season only as during winters most of the destinations remain booked in advance.
Last year, the performance of Odisha Ecotourism was overwhelming in comparison to previous years. The State saw a leap in the number of Eco-tourists and also revenue.
More than 30,000 visitors have made night stay in these properties and the State has received revenue of Rs. 6.6 Crore though after December 2019 there was a gradual slowdown of tourists to the State.
Similipal witnessed more than 5000 night stay visitors and in spite of being new, Barehipani Nature Camp overlooking the beautiful Barehipani waterfall witnessed a healthy flow of quality tourists.
Satkosia Sands Resort at Badmul maintained its towering performance as previous years and recorded more than 4000 tourists with revenue of Rs.1.10 Crore.
During 2018-19 the number of tourists was 20000 and revenue was Rs. 5.6 Crore.
So with the opening up of the eco-tourism destinations, the tourism industry will receive a much needed boost, officials said.