BHUBANESWAR/NEW DELHI: The number of domestic and foreign tourists visiting Odisha has been increasing by the day. In 2014, all 107.91 lakh domestic and 0.71 lakh foreign tourists have visited the state whereas in 2012 and 2013, the number of domestic and foreign tourists who visited the state was 90.53 lakh and 0.65 lakh and 98.00 lakh and 0.67 lakh respectively.
Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma gave the information while replying to an unstarred question on government’s support for ‘Pilgrim Tourism’ in the country on Monday.
The Centre has sanctioned Rs 50 crore under National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive in 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial year for infrastructure development at Puri, Sri Jagannath Dham-Ramachandi-Prachi river front at Deuli under mega circuit.
Only Rs 10 crore has been sanctioned till the end of last financial year (2015-16). No project was sanctioned for Odisha under the Swadesh Darshan scheme launched in 2014-15 for integrated development of theme-based circuits such as North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Eco Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Spiritual Circuit and Ramayana Circuit.
MP Arka Keshari Deo (BJD) urged the Centre to provide funds for promotion of coastline, monument and rural tourism in the state.
“There is scope for development of tourism in Odisha. E-tourism facilities should be extended to Thailand and Singapore to promote Buddhist tourism. Odisha has the potential for promotion of village tourism and heritage tourism,” said Deo.
The Kalahandi MP had sought central attention to the development of communication infrastructure like road, rail and airlines for the promotion of tourism in the state.
Speaking on civil aviation issues in the state, he said, “Odisha is being neglected in the airline sector. Direct flights should be connected to Singapore and Middle East countries. Also, the progress of Jharsuguda airport work is very slow. So I urge the Union Minister to look into these issues.”