Let Tourists Be Our Brand Ambassadors, Odisha Tourism Minister

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government is re-branding its tourism to get the most out of the coastal heaven. It is organizing Eco Retreat programs at various tourist spots. The idea is to let the world explore the unexplored under the tagline “India’s best kept secret”.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister (State) Tourism and OLLC (Odia Language Literature & Culture) reveals how the state has risen as a phoenix after every onslaught by nature and kept its heart of natural beauty pure and pristine.

He says Odisha’s road to success lies in planning and executing projects in collaboration with people and the Centre.

Here are some excerpts from the Interview

Q: Despite so much of scenic beauty, Odisha has been known much for its religious tourism. Now, what is the government doing to promote ecotourism in the state?

A: The government of Odisha in the last few years have started rebranding Odisha and you can see there are eco retreats and eco-tourism nature camps in the state. The tourists have started visiting the state. We are also in the process of getting houseboats and cruise models to attract tourists. We are also promoting culture and even sports tourism all integrated in to one.

Of course, Odisha being Lord Jagannath’s land, people are also interested in religious tourism and we will definitely continue to take care of this as well.

Q: Odisha has braved many a cyclone and now the pandemic, how is the tourism recovering from it?

A: Cyclone Fani struck Odisha in May 2019 and the Holy Rath Yatra was supposed to take place within a month’s time. Despite that the government of Odisha successfully organized the Rath Yatra.

We are the state with the one of the most efficient disaster management. Honorable CM (Naveen Patnaik) has put his team is such a manner that post disaster swift recovery is done.

Q: Though Odisha is having so much of scenic beauty, great beaches but when we compare the tourism of the state with that of Kerala, do you think that a threshold push is still needed to boost the tourism here in that direction?

A: Let us understand that Kerala tourism started much before Odisha. Now the government of Odisha has given a push to tourism sector on priority since last few years and we are hopeful that going by the same pace we can match Kerala in terms of tourism in near future.

Even Kerala rebranded itself and has done well in recent years. We want people to come to Odisha and experience themselves what we have to offer and become our brand ambassadors after ‘exploring the unexplored destinations in the state’.

Q: One thing that catches the eye of the tourists is the road transport and the hassle-free travel in Odisha. Do you think better road transport would boost tourism in the state?

A: Not just the roads in the urban areas but the roads in the rural areas also make the connectivity better in the State. It is done by the government of Odisha in coordination with the central government, we executed it with perfection. I must say it is the honorable CM’s desire and vision which has been applauded many times by the Government of India and that is one reason you can see Odisha is doing well in road transport together with other sectors as well.

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