Bhubaneswar, May 15
There has been a steady growth in domestic and foreign tourist arrival to Odisha since 2014, said State Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda.
Briefing media persons after the achievements of the State Tourism Department was reviewed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here today, Panda said in 2017, there was a record foreign tourist arrival growth of 30.97 pc. “While in 2014 the domestic tourist arrival to the State was 1,07,90,622 and foreign tourist arrival was 71,417, in 2017, the domestic tourist arrival was 1,40,11,229 and foreign tourist arrival was 1,00,014”, he informed.
Panda said the State government had launched a new initiative —‘Baristha Nagarika Tirtha Yatra Yojana’ in 2016. The objective of the scheme is to facilitate the senior citizens in the age group of 60-75 of the state to go on pilgrimage for spiritual rejuvenation once in a life time. The scheme is being organized in collaboration with IRCTC. During 2016-17 an expenditure of Rs 5.71 crore, during 2017-18 an expenditure of Rs 6.54 crore has been incurred and in 2018-19 a budgetary provision Rs 11 crore has been made. “Till date 6 pilgrim trains starting from Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Sambalpur have successfully completed in last year”, Panda said.
The Minister said in 2016-17, three trains departed from Southern Division (Berhampur), Central Division (Bhubaneswar) and Northern Division (Sambalpur). From Southern Division, the train covered Madurai-Rameswaram from July 25 – August 1, 2016 carrying 977 pilgrims, from Central Division, the train covered Allahabad-Varanasi from September 23- 28, 2016 carrying 971 pilgrims and from Northern Division the train covered Haridwar-Rishikesh from November 22 – 28, 2016 carrying 983 pilgrims. Panda said in 2017-18, three trains departed from Southern Division (Berhampur), Central Division (Bhubaneswar) and Northern Division (Sambalpur). From Central Division the train covered Ajmer-Pushkar from November 23-30, 2017 carrying 1,024 pilgrims, from Southern Division the train covered Tirupati-Vellore from January 4- 9, 2018 carrying 978 pilgrims and from Northern Division the train covered Shiridi-Nashik-Traimbakeswar from April 16 – 22, 2018 carrying 998 pilgrims.
Panda said in 2018-19, five tentative trips are proposed to be organized. The first train is scheduled from Rayagada/Koraput covering Tirupati-Vellore-Kanipakam-Sree Kalahasti, the second train is scheduled from Sambalpur covering Rameswaram-Madurai-Trivandrum, the third train is scheduled from Berhampur covering Velankant-Nagore – Brihadeswar-Srirangam, the fourth train is scheduled from Bhubaneswar covering Haridwar-Rishikesh-Delhi and the fifth train is scheduled from Balasore covering Ajmer – Agra – Fatehpur Sikri-Mathura-Brindavan.
The Minister said at the initiative of the State government, Air Asia started operating international flight connecting Kuala Lumpur with Bhubaneswar from April 26, 2017. “This effort opened a new floodgates connecting to the entire East, South and South-East Asian countries including Australasia regions connecting Bhubaneswar with 120 international destinations”, he said, adding Air India has started operation connecting Bhubaneswar with Bangkok in Thailand from December 10, 2017. Panda said Odisha has embarked on an aggressive marketing strategy to promote and position itself as a preferred tourist destination in the country and world at large. “During 22nd Asian Athletic Championship held at Bhubaneswar during July 2017, Odisha Tourism had successfully organized FAM trips and other logistic supports for the delegates”, he informed.
The Minister said Odisha Tourism has been recognized for some outstanding performances. Gopalpur-on-Sea was awarded the first runners-up in ‘Beach and Coastal’ category by India Today Group. Besides, Best Heritage Destination Award was conferred on Konark by Holiday IQ.