The 2nd Odisha Tourism Conclave held at Hotel Swosti Premium, Bhubaneswar on June 17 by Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) witnessed 45 speakers and around 250 participants.
While generating direct income employment, the tourism industry has tremendous potential to create indirect employment and income due to higher multiplier effect, observed J. K. Mohanty, Chairman, HRAO. “Through this conclave, ‘Tourism to be the Driving Force of Future Economy,’ we state again that tourism can be the largest employment generator and booster for Odisha’s as well as India’s GDP,” he said. Stressing on industry status for hospitality, Mohanty said, “What we propose is that the government should declare hotels under infrastructure/ industrial status to increase the room capacity in the hotel industry which in turn has a direct impact on the growth of the tourism sector.”
Addressing the gathering, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “Tourism in any state can only thrive with the joint efforts of the government and the private sector. The cooperation between Odisha tourism and the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) in organising this conclave is commendable.” On policy decisions and tourism, Patnaik added, “The tourism in Odisha is poised for a big push and many initiatives have been taken by the government for the same. One of the notable milestones was the tourism policy and guidelines which laid down concessions for investment in the tourism sector. Mechanism is in place for expeditious clearance of proposals.”
After the declaration of Bhubaneshwar airport as an international airport, there has been significant jumps in the international tourist arrivals, Patnaik observed. Recently the tourism department signed a memorandum with Air Asia for direct flights between Bhubaneshwar and Kuala Lumpur. “This will open South-East Asia and result in higher tourist footfalls. Our state has made significant progress on social indicators, on the law and order front as well as with respect to creation of general infrastructure. We boast of a long coastline, scenic eco-tourism sites and rich legacy in handloom as well as heritage and pilgrimage sites for Buddhism and Hinduism. Odisha is truly the soul of Incredible India, and I welcome you all to partner with us in making Odisha the next most sought-after tourism destination of the country and the world,” he added.
Odisha Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda noted, “We are slowly catching up with other states in ethnic tourism, eco-tourism, as well as religious and spiritual tourism Particularly, we have signed a memorandum with the State Forest Department to give a boost to eco cottages in the state. We recently held the Buddhist Conclave and the Diamond Triangle, consisting of the three Buddhist sites of Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri in the Jashpur district has a lot of potential. We have a light and sound show at Dhauli and very soon we will organise it at Konark as well. All these initiatives will boost tourist overnights stay. Both the domestic and international footfall in the state have gone up.”