Bhubaneswar: Odisha Government will identify more spots having greater potential for development to eco-tourism and eco-recreation centers.
Reviewing the sector at a high level meeting here, Chief Secretary S C Mahapatra directed the officials of various departments to identify around 100 suitable sites in water bodies through joint enquiry for setting up of the jetties and boating facilities.
The officials of the Department of Forest & Environment was also directed to identify around 15 forest tracks for giving jungle safari experience to the tourists.
Mr.Mahapatra made it clear that the locations should be identified on the basis of objective criteria of exotic experience to the tourists, and, their competitiveness for being popularized in international market.
The Chief Secretary said that proper choice of the location and their popularization will attract private investment to the sector soon, and, that will take State’s eco-tourism to next higher level.
He also directed to convert the tents at eco-spots to cottages with proper fire safety precautions.
He emphasized on making the ‘community management model’ more professional with appropriate training and orientation to the local community, VSS and SHG groups.
ACS Forest & Environment, Mona Sharma said community Ecotourism devised by Odisha has proved as a best practice leading to expected outcomes. In recent years Odisha has evolved as the only state in national level to have started community ecotourism.
Presenting updates about the intervention, PCCF Wildlife Sashi Paul said as of now 47 destinations spreading over 18 districts including important tribal areas like Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Malkangiri, Kandhamal, Bargarh, Nayagarh have been operationalized in the State.
These locations have 333 cottages with accommodation capacity for 705 persons. Four spots namely Nrusinghnath in Bargarh districts, Koraput Pine Forest in Koraput, Patora Dam site in Nuapada district and Tensa in Sundargarh district are at the finishing stage for commissioning.
These spots will have night halt facility for the tourists.
Notably, eco-tourism has made a success stride in Odisha with rewarding livelihood opportunities to 600 local communities and immense benefit to the wildlife and forest conservation.
The journey started from 2016 under the trend setting guidance of Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra form the time of his tenure as Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Forest & Environment Department.
Available data show a constant increase in number of visitors to the eco-destinations. It has increased from 11,500 in the year 2016 to 40,019 in the year 2019-20. Defeating the wreck caused by Covid-19, the number of tourists to eco-destinations touched 57,000 just within five months (November to March, 2021) during the FY 2020-21.
The revenue earned from this activity has also increased from Rs. 1. 57 crore to Rs.8.32 crore during the same period.
ACS Forest and Environment Mona Sharma, Principal Secretary Water Resources Anu Garg, Principal Secretary Tourism Vishal Dev, Director Tourism Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav along with senior officials from concerned departments also participated in the deliberations.