Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of State, Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha, shares that they are implementing policies that would strengthen the state’s agenda of furthering its tourism spectrum.
A comprehensive plan has been drawn for efficiently and effectively tapping Odisha’s tourism potential, targeting a substantial increase in arrivals to the state. Talking about these initiatives, Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of State, Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha, at the inaugural session of FHRAI’s 52nd Annual Convention, said, “Odisha was the host state for FHRAI’s golden jubilee convention. We also recently concluded the IATO convention. In another initiative, we, along with FICCI, have invited the tourism industry to the first Odisha Travel Bazaar, which was held between October 15 and 17, 2017, in Bhubaneswar. Odisha has fabulous tourist spots that are spread across the length and breadth of the state, and eastern ports that make it an ideal destination for tourists. The state has some destinations from the Stone Age that are still unexplored. Presently, growth of tourist arrivals to the state is about 9 per cent, which is more than the global tourist arrival rate of 4 per cent. This is a positive sign for the state. Odisha has magnificent temples with Jagannath Temple in Puri, Sun Temple in Konark, and the Mukteshvara and Lingaraja temples in Bhubaneswar. Ecotourism, ethnic tourism, Buddhist tourism, MICE, etc., have gained momentum. Nature has been very kind to Odisha; it is unique in its mineral and natural resources with almost 35 per cent of the state covered with dense forests. It has a coastline of 480 kms and the largest brackish water body, Lake Chilika.”
Relax GST of 28 per cent
Odisha, of late, has emerged as an investment destination in the country, specifically for hospitality. “We formed a new tourism policy in 2016, one of the most attractive tourism policies in the whole country. Investors can derive maximum benefits from this policy for speedy clearance of tourism projects on fast-track basis and singlewindow clearance systems. Odisha’s image has also been transformed with the successful organisation of the Asian Athletics Championships. We have made no compromise with the safety and security of tourists visiting the state. To make their visit hassle-free, we have introduced police patrolling in the Puri- Konark and Puri-Satpura regions. Tourist Police has been introduced in places frequented by domestic and international travellers. We have sound and light shows at Dhauli, where the Kalinga battle was fought in 200 BC, and also at the thirteenth-century Konark Sun Temple. If CRZ norms are eased, it will give a boost to coastal-circuit tourism. In the Samuda project, 1000 acres of land has been procured for construction of world-class infrastructure for a tourism project that will cater to the requirements of highend tourists.
At the recently concluded IATO conference in Odisha, a lot of concern was expressed by delegates on the 28 per cent GST on the hospitality sector. To promote tourism, the GST of 28 per cent needs to be relaxed,” added Panda.