Odisha, today, is not just referred as one of the ‘char-dham’ destinations but more so for all the developments that it has made over the years – all thanks to its stable government! You name a tourism product and Odisha has it. In an exclusive chat with BOTT India, Rina Mohapatra, Jt. Resident Commissioner, Government of Odisha, who was attending the recently concluded SATTE, gave some interesting insights on the 2020 perspectives, plans and aspirations.
Striking a conversation with BOTT, Rina Mohapatra, Jt. Resident Commissioner, Government of Odisha said, “The year 2019 was an amazing year for the tourism department and the outcomes are visible considering whatever we are doing, people are liking it so far.” Odisha, as we all know, is blessed with a 485km long coastline and the weather is moderate throughout the year. Thus, making optimum use of the same, the Odisha Tourism is developing the coastline into an attractive tourist hub.
“Konark which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site used to be a day tourism destination. We have events such as Konark Dance Festival and International Sand Art Festival happening in December. Now we have come up with a glamping retreat at Marine Drive Konark named as Marine Drive Eco Retreat. This has converted Konark into a beach side destination having luxury tents, beach shacks, water sports, adventure sports, conferences facilities with mouth watering cuisines without disturbing the ecosystem.”
Adding further she said, “Odisha Tourism, in a joint venture with the Forest Department, aims to promote eco-tourism by organising camps in the natural areas such as forests, beaches and hills. Another advantage of this initiative is that it involves the local people of the area who not only get employment through the same but also feel involved and important. Going forward, we are also in talks with the Houseboat agencies and those involved in Cruise Tourism to come forward and invest in Odisha.”
Besides Konark, Odisha receives perhaps the maximum footfall in the holy city of Puri, which while being famous for religious tourism is also equally popular for its clean and pristine beaches. Talking about developing tourism in Puri, she said, “The Shamuka Beach project aims to have a beach city over 1500 sq km having hotels, conventions, golf course and other beach side activities. This we are hoping will attract a lot of traffic and simultaneously ease overcrowding in Puri.” She also mentioned, “Royal Palaces have been converted to luxury hotels and this will further boost the level of investment in the destination.”
Ensuring that people across India and even those outside get to know about various activities and initiatives being taken up in Odisha, the state is investing heavily in its marketing and promotion. “We have participated in Metro Train wrapping in Mumbai and we are in talks for similar proposal in Delhi as well. In London also we did the bus wrap during the Hockey world cup. In addition to this, various airports and lounges across numerous states are already packed with branding Odisha as an attractive touristy destination,” she added.
She insisted that Odisha is perhaps one of the safest destinations for women travellers across the region. The people as well as touristy sights are well-equipped and monitored at most times so there is no fear of a mishap. The Government of Odisha has been careful and alert regarding the safety of its tourist and it is something that has always remained of paramount importance.
“Another noteworthy feature has been the MO BEACH CAMPAIGN, which is one of the largest beach cleaning activities along the Puri beach that was held by the volunteers from different walks of life. It was a huge success and drew positive comments and views for the destination,” she added.
Commenting on the plans for the year 2020, she illuminated, “Currently we are focusing on increasing the visibility of the niche products available in Odisha as that is a big differentiator for us. While the domestic traffic to the state is heartening, as of now, only one per cent of foreign travellers are visiting Odisha, which is set to change given the increasing international sports activities that are being planned and implemented across the city.”
Concluding the chat on a positive note, she said, “By the year 2020, Odisha would witness 2.5cr footfall, which is a great number. We also have an award winning end-to-end website wherein hoteliers and tour operators can host and promote their product for free.”
“I invite you to come and explore Odisha – India’s best kept secret” – Rina Mohapatra, Jt. Resident Commissioner, Government of Odisha.