Although Odisha has vast tourism potential, it is yet to come at par with the neighbouring and other states like Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi etc. This is not a statement from an outsider, but the observation of the tourism department officials including the minister, secretary and all others in charge and they are determined to make a difference soon.
The Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO), the apex body of the hospitality industry in Odisha, has been organising Odisha Tourism Conclave since last three years and has been suggesting various promotional initiatives and action plans to the state government for development of tourism of the state. This year also HRAO organised the 4th edition of Odisha Tourism Conclave on 18th September 2019 under the theme “Tourism To Be The Driving Force Of State Economy”.
At this conclave they invited experts from the field of travel trade, media, performing arts, bloggers, content writers, adventure sports, airlines, digital marketing and branding, food connoisseur, filmmakers, eco-tourism lovers, academicians, bureaucrats etc. along with government officials to actively participate in the conclave and their expert comments/guidance would help in preparation of a master plan for tourism growth of the state.
Governor of Odisha, Ganeshi Lal inaugurated the conclave in the presence of Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Tourism minister and Vishal Dev, Tourism secretary, Government of Odisha. President of Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), P P Khanna and president of Indian Golf Tourism Association (IGTA) Rajan Sehgal were among the key invitees.
The panel discussions had sessions on branding Odisha (Unique Selling Propositions & Unique Value Proposition); globalising Odisha’s unique heritage, culture and cuisine; connecting Odisha globally; enhancing the role of digital media in tourism promotion; and augmenting Odisha’s hospitality and tourism sector.
The conclave was a congregation to give a 360-degree boost to the growth of tourism sector in Odisha, attract investments in the tourism sector, the holistic approach to rediscover the potential issues relating to tourism & hospitality sector and to prepare a roadmap with specific recommendations from the stakeholders.
During the last year’s conclave, some of the major recommendations which were submitted to the government and have been implemented by the state tourism department are revamping digital marketing strategies and optimisation of Odisha Tourism website, promotion of Eco-Tourism, conducting domestic roadshows in different states, cleanliness campaign at Puri, change of Odisha Tourism logo, Single Window Clearance for operation of tourism projects, special promotion campaigns at destination connected by airlines to create awareness about tourist attractions in Odisha, development of tourists circuits other than Puri & Konark to give a boost to Odisha as a 21 night destination, allotment of land for hotel projects to attract investments to the state etc. This year also throughout the day, lots of recommendations were raised which will now be screened and presented to Odisha Tourism for consideration for implementation.
Tourism minister of Odisha Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi said, “Our government is working towards making Puri an international tourist spot and for that, it has invested INR 5 billion to develop it as a world heritage city. We are also keen to promote Shamuka as an international tourism hub in the same line of Bali with more international flight connectivity, infrastructural development at the beach, the establishment of star category hotels and many more projects.”
“Our government should restart giving capital investment and interest subsidy at least three years to boost up our tourism infrastructure and hotel industry and the government will be able to contain out-go of foreign exchange and Indians going abroad. Further, GST of 28 pc charged on rooms above INR 7,500 fails India to compete in the international tourism market especially in South-east Asia where the taxes are low and hotels are cheaper in places like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong etc. States like Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Goa, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, etc., have increased their foreign tourist arrivals due to availability of much more star category hotels and rooms. But in case of Odisha having only eight star hotels with 594 rooms we are unable to increase foreign tourist footfalls in our state,” commented J K Mohanty, chairman of HRAO and CMD of Swosti Hotels & Resorts.