Around 40 ecotourism destinations, including beach resorts, hill stations in tribal belts, forests and nature camps, will be opened in Odisha after the situation arising out of COVID- 19 pandemic improves and these shall give a new and unique identity to the state, said Director Tourism, Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav.
Speaking at a webinar – Investment and Entrepreneurship Opportunities in Tourism in Odisha-- organized by Odisha Corporate Foundation (OCF), a non-profit organization on Friday he said the pandemic has badly affected the tourism sector across the globe due to travel restrictions and economic slump.
“It is no better in Odisha. In such a situation, the State Government is planning to promote ecotourism on a priority basis,” said Mr.Jadhav.
Tourism Director said Odisha is blessed with 485 km of coastline and around 40 per cent of forest cover with well-preserved natural landscapes offering proper ground for ecotourism.
The rich heritage, art, natural and biodiversity-rich forests, vast beaches, along with the rich tradition and culture of Odisha have been attracting tourists and nature lovers from across the world, he added.
“The Tourism Department has been taking all possible measures to popularize handicrafts and traditional cuisines of the state, besides maintaining and renovating the tourists’ spots,” Mr.Jadhav said.
He said the Department of Tourism always encourages entrepreneurs and investors for development and promotion of tourism.
The State has 300 acres of land bank, which investors can use for hotels, resorts, conference halls, theme parks and entertainment zones and the state government has established a Single Window Clearance mechanism to sanction investment proposals.
Mr.Jadhav said the department hopes that in the next couple of years, the State will get a prominent place on the world tourism map.
Chairman of Hotel and Restaurants Association of Odisha (HRAO) J K Mohanty said that while states like Kerala and Maharashtra have 93 and 90 star hotels respectively, Odisha has only nine. It is high time the state took measures to enrich its hospitality industry.
“We need to prepare and promote good quality videos of our tourist spots, besides pulling mega investors like Disney World,” Mr.Mohanty said.
Former Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik said the state government, on a priority basis, should work for the all-round development of 6-7 important tourists’ spots and then go for development of others in a phased manner.
He proposed that OCF should form a committee for this and come forward to support the State Government.