Bhubaneswar, Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature and Culture, Government of Odisha today said that while in the government scheme of things tourism may rank a little lower than other priority sectors like health, education, it is an important sector that must be supported.
Addressing the virtual roundtable on ‘COVID-19: Impact on the State Tourism Sector’, organized by FICCI, Panigrahi said that the budget allotted for the tourism sector this year has seen an unprecedented increase.
The Chief Minister wants to take Odisha tourism to global standards. We all must understand that the sector needs help to bounce back. “The Chief Minister is expected to soon announce financial packages for the tourism sector. The need is to work towards sustainable tourism, and we cannot have a situation where risk management is not taken care of,” he added.
“Let us collectively reaffirm our commitment to preserve power and promote all aspects of tourism and hospitality to make it socially and economically sustainable,” said Panigrahi.
Vishal Kumar Dev, Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Services and Tourism, Government of Odisha said that the government is aware of the concerns faced by the tourism and hospitality sector. “We are working on a detailed support package to be offered to the industry, which would include hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and self-employed people including photographers, guides, etc., among others,” he added.
Highlighting the measures to promote Odisha tourism, he said that we are looking at roadshows, road trips from the neighbouring states, and scaling up of eco-retreats to cover more destinations. We have selected a partner that will help us in curating various itineraries and immersive experience packages to promote these packages, Dev noted.
“For the long term, there has been a change in our approach to infrastructure development. We are developing infrastructure in a very planned and integrated manner. We are also looking at destinations in a holistic manner and a preparing master plan for each destination. A priority destination list has been identified consisting of 70 circuits and the government will invest in a big way. Our infrastructure development budget for this year has been doubled,” he added.
We will also be investing in new products, especially cruises and houseboats. We have selected India’s largest river cruise operator to start catamarans. By early next year we will have Odisha on the luxury river cruise map of the country, Mr Dev said.
He further said that the FICCI Odisha State Council has not only been highlighting the issues faced by the industry and various sectors but has been partnering with the government on various issues including the supply of oxygen.
Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Chair, FICCI Odisha State Council and MD, Sambad Group noted that the FICCI Odisha State Council has partnered the Govt of Odisha as its National Industry Partner for various programmes like Make in Odisha, Krushi Odisha, & Odisha 50 and organizing virtual roundtable on various sectors in association with state government. “We (FICCI) are also a part of the state government’s task force in vaccination drives and procuring medical oxygen supply,” she said.
JK Mohanty, Co-Chair, FICCI Tourism National Committee and CMD, Swosti Group said that the state has always put up a passionate and resolute fight towards natural calamities like cyclones and more recently, COVID. “The Odisha government has always swung into action. Most of our (the industry’s) demands have been considered and taken up at the highest level,” he said.
SK Dash, Director, Trip Process Pvt Ltd; Vishal Kamat, CEO, Kamat Group of Hotels; Sanjib Kumar Rout, FICCI Member and Founder President, CV Raman Global University, among others also put forth their views and suggestions.