Odisha continues to be overlooked by the centre as its repeated efforts to figure in the tourism development schemes with the latest rude jolt coming in the ‘Iconic Tourism Destination’ list which does not include any destination of the state.

“It is extremely disappointing” said a senior officer here while adding that such random selection without taking the states into confidence is unacceptable.

How can some beach of a state figure in the list of Iconic Tourism Destination while sites like Chilka Lake, Konark or Bhitarkanika in Odisha are overlooked, he questioned.

He asserted that the state was not taken into confidence and the list has been prepared arbitrarily by the central government. Earlier too, Odisha’s plea for a Buddhist tourist circuit had been ignored by the centre.

Odisha Tourism’s tag line “the best kept secret” seems to have made the centre think that it should remain a secret without being developed, chided officials here.

Incidentally, the state tourism department had, last week, held a roadshow in Mumbai to attract investment in the sector.

The department working in tandem with the sports department had successfully campaigned while hosting the Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. Promotional efforts were spread across the hockey playing nations of the world.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is known to have a special soft corner for tourism, given his worldwide exposure, is bound to take up the matter with the PM and question how the Iconic Tourism Destinations did not include a single tourist hotspot of Odisha.

Recently, the hospitality and tourism business related private entrepreneurs had appealed to the central government to provide a special assistance package for the sector which had sustained huge losses due to cyclone Fani on 3 May.

The ‘Golden Triangle’ of tourism – Puri, Konark, and Bhubaneswar were the worst hit by cyclone Fani and the appeal to the centre was to provide funds for the revival of the hotel and hospitality industry.

There has been no response in this regard.

Reacting to the omissions from the 17 Iconic Tourism Destinations for development as world-class destinations in the Budget, the chairman Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha, JK Mohanty said surprisingly not a single spot of Odisha has found a place in the list.

In a letter to Union Minister of State Tourism Prahalad Singh Patel, Mohanty said Odisha has much more tourism potential in comparison with its neighbouring states.

Odisha has been neglected by the Central Government since the last 30 years resulting in the lowest tourist traffic and the lowest number of star category hotels. The Ministry of Tourism has been aggressively promoting the Incredible India Campaign but unfortunately not much is said about Odisha. Even most of the India Tourism offices abroad hardly have any tourist literature on the State of Odisha, he said. 

Odisha is endowed with a rich cultural heritage, beautiful mountains, the largest brackish water lake of Asia with 64 varieties of rich tribal culture, mangrove forests, wildlife, the famous silver filigree works, stone crafts, Patta Chitra Paintings, Handloom and Handicraft etc.

Destinations like the Ramsar site, Sun Temple at Konark, the largest lagoon in the Northern Hemisphere ‘Chilika Lake’, the mangrove forest ‘Bhitarkanika’ which attracted a large number of tourists to the state are some of the destinations which have more tourism potential than most of the sites selected for promotion by the centre, he stated.

Mohanty called for a review of the list.