Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, we witnessed the strength and resilience shown by the stakeholders of tourism and hospitality industry noted CM Naveen Patnaik in his message at a webinar organised by FICCI and Odisha Tourism.
The webinar ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth – Reflections & Way Forward’ was held as part of World Tourism Day celebrations.
The Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in his message, highlighted the need for a self-sustainable, responsible and community-driven tourism sector.
“Odisha presents an untapped reservoir of niche tourism experiences” stated the CM.
As the travel and tourism sector continues its battle against the pandemic, Odisha Tourism is taking rapid strides towards integrated development of the State’s tourism sector that is self-sustainable and supports wider economic recovery”.
Odisha’s award-winning ecotourism initiative of community-managed nature camps exemplifies this model in letter and spirit. We have also introduced the Odisha Home-stay Establishment Scheme 2021 to enable creation of immersive tourism experiences through operationalization of home stays at unexplored bio-diverse destinations with rich culture while boosting local entrepreneurship and augmenting rural livelihoods”, Patnaik said.
Tourism Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi underlined the work done on infrastructure development through integrated master planning of identified priority destinations across the state with scope for community participation and incorporation of sustainable value-adding enterprises like handicrafts and promotion of authentic Odia Cuisine.
The state also received the Silver Award for ‘The Best Future Forward State’ at the 6th India Responsible Tourism Awards. Odisha is a leader in Tourism and Sports, he said.
The Minister also emphasized on Caravan Tourism, a policy of the Government of India, and mentioned that the State is taking all measures right from the creation of basic infrastructure required for Caravan Tourism to the end product to ensure that this is completed and implemented soon.
Surendra Kumar, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism said some of the key focus areas that Odisha tourism has been working on are Heritage tourism and Tribal tourism.
“The state is also ramping up the award-winning community-led ecotourism models. In the last four to five years,
Odisha has developed a lot of eco-tourism sites both by the Tourism department as well as the Forest department.
Despite the pandemic, the eco-retreat at Konark had fifty per cent occupancy and other sites had 40 per cent occupancy. The Eco Retreat will be expanded to seven unique ecotourism destinations”, said Mr Kumar.
Mr Suman Billa, Director, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), Technical Cooperation & Silk Road Development, noted that “Odisha has taken up fundamental and far-reaching initiatives to create ‘Inclusive Tourism’. The most important cornerstones are that Odisha has taken up initiatives in creating authentic and traditional experiences for tourists and this is supported by their push to create home-stays which is excellent”.
Mr JK Mohanty, CMD, Swosti Group; Capt Suresh Sharma, Founder and Director Operations, Green Dot Expeditions; Dr Vithal Venkatesh Kamat, Executive Chairman & Managing Director, Kamat Hotels Group Ltd and Mr Devjyoti Patnaik, Avid Traveler and Biker also shared their perspective on the tourism potential in the state.