Odisha aims to develop a resilient and self-sustainable tourism sector: Naveen Patnaik

Odisha aims to develop a resilient and self-sustainable tourism sector: Naveen Patnaik

Odisha Tourism, in collaboration with FICCI, hosted a webinar yesterday titled 'Tourism for Inclusive Growth - Reflections and Way Forward' as part of the World Tourism Day 2021 celebrations.

Mr Naveen Patnaik, Odisha's Chief Minister, released a statement emphasising the importance of a self-sustaining, responsible, and community-driven tourism sector. Mr Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav, Director & Additional Secretary, Odisha Tourism Department, read out the message during the webinar.

He cites, "Odisha is a treasure trove of unexplored specialty tourism experiences. Despite the pandemic's obstacles, we saw the power and resilience of tourism and hospitality sector stakeholders in establishing a safe, secure, and experientially enriching environment for travellers to visit Odisha - India's Best Kept Secret."

"Tourism for Inclusive Growth is the topic of World Tourism Day 2021. While the travel and tourist industry continues to fight the pandemic, Odisha Tourism is making tremendous steps toward integrated tourism development that is self-sustaining and contributes to the state's overall economic recovery. Odisha is committed to sustainable and responsible tourism.

Odisha is committed to sustainable and responsible tourism. Our primary offerings are geared toward the community. Odisha's award-winning ecotourism effort of community-run nature camps is a textbook example of this approach in both letter and spirit. Additionally, we introduced the Odisha Homestay Establishment Scheme 2021 to facilitate the creation of immersive tourism experiences through the operationalization of homestays in underdeveloped biodiverse destinations with a rich cultural heritage, while fostering local entrepreneurship and enhancing rural livelihoods."

"As part of our efforts to establish Odisha as a world-class tourism destination, we are actively developing infrastructure through integrated master planning of identified priority destinations across the State, with opportunities for community participation and the incorporation of sustainable value-adding enterprises such as handicrafts and promotion of authentic Odia cuisine."

Mr Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Odisha's Minister of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature, and Culture, stated that Odisha has rewritten its tourism strategy and vision in the post-covid climate, while ensuring that safety remains a priority.

Mr Panigrahi stated, "Tourism has huge potential in the state." "Odisha has a unique terrain, rich culture, and heritage sites. As our Hon'ble Chief Minister indicated, our government is committed to ecotourism through a community-driven model that is also sustainable. Additionally, the state got a Silver Award at the 6th India Responsible Tourism Awards for 'The Best Future Forward State.' Odisha is a tourism and sports powerhouse. Additionally, the state is a leader in a number of other categories, such as women empowerment, which other states have emulated."

Additionally, the Minister underlined Caravan Tourism, a Government of India programme, and stated that the State is taking all necessary efforts, from the development of basic infrastructure required for Caravan Tourism to the final product, to ensure that it is completed and implemented quickly.

Mr Surendra Kumar, Principal Secretary, Odisha's Department of Tourism, stated, "This World Tourism Day, all governments, including Odisha, recognise and actively work for inclusive growth. Even before the epidemic struck, the Odisha government saw tourism as a critical area for growth. Odisha tourism has been focusing on several major sectors, including heritage tourism and tribal tourism.

"Additionally, the state is expanding its award-winning community-led ecotourism concepts. Odisha has built a number of eco-tourism sites over the previous four and a half years, both through the Tourism and Forest departments. Despite the epidemic, the eco-retreat at Konark was 50% full while the other locations were 40% full. This year, the Eco Retreat will extend to seven unique eco-tourism destinations, and the model upon which the initiative is built integrates best practises in material utilisation, zero liquid and sewerage discharge, and comprehensive waste management "he continued.

"Odisha's government has cultivated an investor-friendly environment in order to resurrect the industry during the next five years. To expand both current and undiscovered tourism sites, surveys of investible tourism landbanks are being conducted. Private sector investment is supported by enticing incentive programmes "he observed.

Suman Billa is the Director of the United Nations World Tourism Organization's (UNTWO) Technical Cooperation and Silk Road Development Division. "There is no sector more effective at accelerating inclusive growth than tourism. Tourism is significant because to its sheer scale. The industry generates exports of 1.7 trillion dollars. Tourism generates one out of every ten employment. Another critical component of tourism is its capacity to generate employment for a diversified population."

"Odisha has made bold and far-reaching steps to promote 'Inclusive Tourism.' One of the most critical pillars is that Odisha has made the initiative to offer authentic and traditional experiences for tourists, which is backed up by their excellent push to build homestays. This not only provides an opportunity to present Odisha's authentic experience to tourists, but also provides economic opportunities for the community "he continued.

"Odisha also benefits from tourism by promoting traditional industries like as handicrafts and handlooms. Additionally, Odisha is doing an amazing job of developing traditional wooden boats that will be staffed by local boatmen, providing people with a source of income "he observed.

Mr JK Mohanty, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Swosti Group; Capt Suresh Sharma, Founder and Director Operations, Green Dot Expeditions; Dr Vithal Venkatesh Kamat, Executive Chairman and Managing Director, Kamat Hotels Group Ltd; and Mr Devjyoti Patnaik, Avid Traveler and Biker, also shared their perspectives on the state's tourism potential.

During the webinar, a second television advertisement was launched for 'Odisha by Road,' a campaign launched last year on World Tourism Day to promote road vacations in Odisha.

During the webinar, the winners of the World Tourism Day 2021 photography competition 'Odisha Through Your Lens' were also announced. The top 100 picture contest submissions are on display at the Utkal Galleria and Esplanade malls in Bhubaneswar.