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Thursday, 10 December, 2015, 13 : 00 PM [IST]

Odisha to have 2 crore tourists by 2020: ASSOCHAM study

As per a report in Times of India, annual tourist footfalls in Odisha will touch 2-crore mark by 2020, a study by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has found. The ASSOCHAM has projected that given the current tourism potential of the state, it can attract 1.9 crore tourists by 2020, an average growth at the rate of 9.85% per year from 2014. An additional 82 lakh tourists will throng the state by the end of 2020. In 2014, 1.08 crore tourists visited different tourist destinations of the state. D S Rawat, Secretary general (ASSOCHAM) said, "In 2005, only 46.6 lakh people visited Odisha. In the last decade, it crossed 1 crore mark, nearly three times of that in 2005. The growth has been recorded because of inclusive tourism policies adopted by the state." ASSOCHAM has suggested factors that can help boost tourism to achieve the projected target. Like Kerala, Odisha should develop the backwaters and make them attractive for overseas tourists. Because of backwaters resorts, Kerala has not been able to generate employment through development of backwaters, which in turn has helped sustain the tourism potential for long, but also has gained prominence in tourism map of India. Its hilly terrain and tea gardens and Ayurveda in the process also attracted tourists in drives, said Rawat. Giving example of Chilika lagoon, one of the best maintained wetland in Asia, Rawat said, “If Chilika is attracting 8 to 10 lakh tourists annually, it can attract additional five lakh if the backwater is developed in the model of Kerala.” Chilika Development Authority (CDA) has chalked out a comprehensive plan to increase the tourist footfall, but it is not so keen to keep houseboats in the backwater. We will create island cottages for the tourists as houseboats are likely to affect the water quality. We will however develop the lagoons catchment area (spread over 4000 sq km area) by making resorts and world class hotels, said Ajit Pattanaik , Chief Executive, CDA. We expect that tourist footfall will increased by another 5 lakh after the catchment area development, he added. ASSOCHAM has further suggested that the state tourism sector should be developed in consultation with public. The government should identify the new tourist circuits or destinations having potential to attract large number of visitors. Tourism fairs and festivals are also a powerful tool for showcasing rich tourism potential, the study said. The ASSOCHAM study holds significance as on Wednesday, Ashok Panda, Tourism Minister said in the floor of assembly that Harishankar in Balangir district and Nrusinghanath in Bargarh district will be developed as a new tourist circuit. He was responding to a question of BJP leader K V Singhdeo. We have received funds from the Centre to develop these two tourists spots as a circuit, panda said in the assembly. Harishankar and Nrusinghanath is connected by Gandhamardan hill, considered sacred due to its linked to mythological story about Hanuman taking medicinal plants from the hill for Laxman in Ramayan. Harishankar has a beautiful waterfall and annually 1 lakh tourists visit the site. (Source : Times of India)
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