By Samikhsya Bureau
The Department of Tourism concluded a three day familiarisation trip to Bhitarkanika National Park and Chilika Lake in its maiden outreach to owners and operators of luxury houseboats and water sports and recreation projects.
The state has embarked on a drive to diversify its tourism offerings by exploring the potential of the various waterbodies and wetlands that dot its landscape, besides its pristine 482 km long coastline.
The FAM trip witnessed the participation of 18 firms comprising 26 participants across six states including Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana and West Bengal, apart from Odisha. The key visits were to Bhitarkanika’s mangrove swamps, which have earned for themselves the sobriquet of “India’s Amazon” among new visitors. The survey of Chilika Lake region comprised visits to Rambha and Satapada sites, followed by Tampara Lake.
Kerala Tourism vitally contributed to the success of the initiative, wherein the officials from Alappuzha (Alleppey) and Ernakulam (Kochi) districts shared insights from the regulatory, promotional, technical and environmental perspectives. The Department of Tourism intends to adopt best practices and vital learnings from thriving models of other states.
The FAM trip concluded with aninteractive session with all participants, during which vital inputs were shared with the Department of Tourism, across concerns such as infrastructure development for ensuring the success of the niche segments, safety and security concerns, experience packaging, among others.
“The government has very aggressively promoted water Sports and recreation tourism in the recent times. We are laying special policy focus on niche Tourism segments such as Houseboat tourism, which seamlessly mingles with ecotourism and water recreation,” said Commissioner cum Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha, in his address. “Odisha has a habit of creating benchmarks and workable models for sustainable enterprise. In this case too, we shall jointly strive to synergise the various segments of water based Tourism as a sustainable segment.”
During the session, participants shared their detailed feedback, which indicated a general excitement and eagerness to start operations. “Tampara Lake, along its 7 km unhindered length, holds the potential to host international sporting events, such as banana boat races,” said one participant.
“Chilika Lake is the most beautiful wetland I have visited in my twenty five year career in water recreation and tourism”, revealed another.
The Department of Tourism intends to incentivise investments in niche sectors such as water recreation, houseboat tourism and night camping through policy interventions.