The India Minister of Tourism, Government of Odisha, Mr. Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi and the Minister of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature & Culture, Government of Odisha, yesterday said that effective coordination between the center, states, and union territories is a must in order to revive the India tourism industry post the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing “Odisha Tourism Virtual Roadshows – 2020” which was organized by FICCI (the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry), Mr. Panigrahi said that since people are less likely to travel by air or train during these COVID-19 times, the Government of Odisha has launched the “Odisha by Road” campaign, which aims to provide an opportunity by traveling through the beautiful roads.
“The ‘Odisha by Road campaign’ intends to encourage tourists from within the state as well as from the neighboring states to travel to various tourist destinations in Odisha through [an] excellent network of roads. Through this campaign, we will promote some beautiful yet not so popular places of attraction which would be further facilitated by the Tourism Department,” said Mr. Panigrahi.
Highlighting the award-winning initiatives of eco-tourism and nature camps, Mr. Panigrahi said, “Capitalizing on the success of the first edition of Eco Retreat – A luxury camping project of the Tourism department – is all set to be implemented in five locations this year. We are taking up a few mega projects which have been in the pipeline for a long time and assure to provide full support to the tourism sector.”
Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner – cum – Secretary, Tourism Department and Sports and Youth Services Department, Government of Odisha – said that government and the private sector needs to find innovative ideas to revive India’s tourism sector in the post-pandemic phase. The challenge is to ensure safety and to provide accommodation without any fear of virus attack. “There is a huge latent demand for travel, and the challenge is to tackle this demand to travel safely and efficiently,” he said. The secretary further stated that MOUs would be signed with neighboring states to promote interstate road trips.
Speaking on the development of the State, Mr. Dev said that the state has been a leading reformer, and Odisha’s development is not just limited to industries, but in the last 20 years, it has attained development in every sphere.
“Our idea is to promote Odisha as a safe travel destination, and the initiatives like the ‘Odisha by Road’ campaign and nature camps will take the travelers beyond the temples and beaches by converting the state’s tourism ecosystem into a treasure trove,” said Mr. Dev.
Ms. Anshu Pragyan Das, DCF, Eco-Tourism, Forest and Environment Department, Government of Odisha, outlined the award-winning eco-tourism initiatives taken up by the Odisha Government.
Mr. JK Mohanty, Co-Chairman of the FICCI Tourism Committee, said Odisha can beat the rest of India as far as eco-tourism is concerned, and with the LTC packages announced by the Government of India, the travel and tourism industry stands to gain a lot.
Mr. Yugabrata Kar, Secretary of the Odisha Tour Operators Association (OTOA), said the lockdown made us realize how important nature is in our lives, and Odisha is all about nature. “We need to build the trust that it’s safe to travel to Odisha as it is not a crowded destination which will help in maintaining social distancing,” Mr. Kar added.
Mr. Seshagiri Mantri, Managing Director of Vinayagar Hotels & Resorts (Pvt) Ltd. Visakhapatnam along with Mr. Mitrabhanu Choudhury, VP of Strategy & Transactions – EY, also shared their perspectives on the potential of Odisha as a preferred tourist destination in the country.