Odisha’s eco-tourism drive witnesses increasing footfall

Bhubaneswar: The eco-tourism drive taken up by the Odisha government has made significant progress within the last three years with manifold increase footfall, night stay and revenue generation.

This was known from the discussions of the Eco-Tourism Board Meeting held under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy here on Wednesday.

Reviewing the progress, Tripathy directed the department to develop eco-tourism along professional lines through the creation of market demand and private sector linkages.

The departments of Tourism and Forest & Environment were directed to work out a Home-Stay policy near identified sanctuaries and eco-destinations like Similipal, Bhitarakanika, Chilika, Daringibadi, Satakosia, etc.

Tripathy further directed to identify the places as per their feasibility.

He also directed to involve internationally reckoned writers, authors and travel experts in eco-tourism drive of the State.

Development Commissioner Suresh Chandra Mohapatra advised to scale up at least ten destinations of Odisha to the next level of eco-tourism.

It was decided to workout 3 to 5 days tour packages in Odisha including the heritage and nature sites.

The Chief Secretary directed to popularize ‘Odisha destinations’ among different travel and tour operators in the world market.

It was decided to further develop the eco-sites with facilities like birding, sports, trekking, wildlife watching, cycling, boating, jungle safari, photography, canopy walk, and farm visits, etc. Such facilities would be created under the joint collaboration of Government and private players.

Guide Training Programs would be conducted involving educated youths. Chief Secretary directed the Indian Institute of Hotel Management to train members of the eco-development committees in home keeping and hospitality. 

Presenting the updates, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) Hari Sankar Upadhaya said that till the date 40 eco-tourist destinations had been developed and made open to the visitors in different parts of the State.

Around 298 tent and rooms with the capacity of accommodating around 800 persons per day had been put into the services of the visitors. Presently around 1000 local people including both men and women are getting additional livelihood support from activities like hospitality, home keeping, care, conservation, and other ancillary activities in these spots.

As of now, 90 number of booking agents have been registered from the different states of India. The number of people engaged in these works will increase with an increasing number of visitors and tourists to these spots. The online booking system has facilitated international booking for visit to the spots.

Within the last years, there has been a steady rise in the numbers of international tourists from the countries like US, France, UK, America, Germany, Singapore, Netherland, Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and Switzerland. 

The number of night stay visitors from these countries has increased from 9859 in the year 2016-17 to 13785 in 2017-18 and further to 20127 in the year 2018-19.  

The income generated from different spots are shared with respective eco-development committee and members engaged in hospitality and home keeping. The revenue generation from this source has shown a steady upward trend from 0.47 crore in 2016-17 to Rs.5.6 crore in 2018-19.

The issues relating to the development of new destinations in Chandipur, Chitrakonda, Satiguda, Koraput-Pine forest, Tensa, Patora Dam site in Nuapada and Nrusinghanath in Bargarh were discussed and resolved in the meeting.

Tripathy directed to complete the infrastructure works expeditiously and open those for tourists during the current season.

With these new seven destinations, there will be 47 eco-destinations in Odisha. The eco-tourism spots have been made polythene free.