Bhubaneswar: The Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik, has expressed optimism that the development of the multi-faceted Odisha tourism product will receive a major fillip following the establishment of the air connection by Air Asia between Malaysia and Bhubaneswar. In addition, the development of the commercial airport at Jharsuguda will serve as a major connection with the western part of the State.
Inaugurating the second edition of the Odisha Travel Bazaar (OTB) 2018, organized by Odisha Tourism and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here of Friday, Shri Patnaik said the Jharsuguda airport will boost tribal tourism and develop travel and tourism facilities in western Odisha.
The Chief Minister said that the State was all set to host the 14th edition of the Hockey World Cup in November 2018 in which 16 world teams will be participating. This was bound to have a cascading effect of travel and tourism, he added.
He said Odisha Tourism is intensifying its strategy to promote its destinations by inviting more tour operators, travel agents, travel writers, TV team, through its hospitality programmes. To add value to its products, the Department has started Light & Sound Show at Dhauli. Similar Light & Sound Show has started at Konark, followed by Khandagiri-Udayagiri.
Mr. Patnaik said the strength of Odisha is basically lay in its rich cultural heritage. But new tourism products such as ethnic tourism, Buddhist tourism, eco-tourism, MICE tourism have gained the momentum and attracts lot of tourists to the State for this unexplored sector.
Shri Ashok Chandra Panda, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism, Odia Language Literature and Culture, Government of Odisha, said that tourism was a priority sector of the State “Our constant drive is to position Odisha as one of the preferred destinations in the country”, he said and added that the State’s Tourism Policy of 2016 was one of the progressive and investor friendly tourism policy in the country.
He said the highlight of this year’s OTB is that there has been an increase of participation of number of Foreign Tour Operators from last year 45 to this year 60. OTB, he said, was a unique and highly focused event for the promotion of Odisha, connecting, domestic tour operators, foreign tour operators, hoteliers, travel writers, Investors and tourism fraternity.
This year’s OTB has witnessed the participation of 60 FTOs from 23 countries like Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Netherlands, the UK, USA and 16 leading DTOs from Ahmedabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Raipur, Rajkot, Ranchi, Varanasi and Visakhapatnam. The FTOs will interact and engage themselves over two days with 56 sellers comprising of travel agencies and hoteliers to showcase and sell the Odisha travel product internationally and within the country.
As compared to last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of foreign buyers from 45 to 60 participants this year. Similarly, domestic tour operators increased from 10 last year to 16 participants this year. There is also an increase in the pre-scheduled B2B meetings between Buyers and Sellers at 1800 this year compared with 1300 B2B meetings held in the first edition of OTB.
The invited Foreign Tour Operators (FTOs) Domestic Tour Operators (DTOs) took pre-event Familiarization (FAM) Trips from October 2-4, 2018 in different tourist locations of Odisha to experience the richness and vibrancy of the state.
Mr. R Balakrishnan, Development Commissioner-cum-ACS, Government of Odisha, said that the tag line of Odisha Tourism, ‘India’s Best Kept Secret’ was in line with the diverse geographical and demographic revelations that the State has to offer to a discerning tourist. The capital city of Bhubaneswar, he said, was not just one of the oldest in the country but also the smartest.
Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Tourism Department and Sports & Youth Services Department, Government of Odisha, said that Odisha’s Tourism Policy of 2016 was the most progressive in the country and provides an enabling and investor-friendly facilities. The Tourism Department, he added, was striving to get more hotels started in the State and provide the requisite infrastructure.
Ms. Shubha Sarma, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Handlooms, Textiles and Handicrafts Department, Government of Odisha, gave a presentation on ‘Kala Bhoomi’.
Ms. Archana Patnaik, Director and Additional Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha, said that OTB 2018 showcases the true potential of Odisha as a tourist destination. This unique and highly-focused event for the promotion of Odisha, connects inbound bound tour operators, domestic tour operators, foreign tour operators, hoteliers, travel writers and tourism fraternity of the state of Odisha.
Mr. J.K. Mohanty, Chairman, Tourism Panel, FICCI Odisha State Council and CMD, Swosti Group, commended the State’s initiative in combining tourism and sports to give amore holistic thrust to the tourism in the State. He assured FTOs that the State’s domestic tour operators were most reliable and reasonable in their pricing.
Mr. Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI, said that Odisha played host to one lakh tourists in 2017. This figure was expected to increase sizably, thanks to the sustained efforts of Odisha Tourism.
Tourism industry professional later participated in a panel discussion on ‘Taking Odisha Tourism to the next level’. The panelists were: Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Odisha; Mr. J. K. Mohanty, Chairman, Tourism Panel, FICCI Odisha State Council and CMD, Swosti Group; Mr. Souvagya Mahapatra, Executive Director, Mayfair Hotels & Resorts – Bhubaneswar & Kolkata; Ms. Carolyn E Anderson, President, Beyond All Borders, USA; Ms. Sara Wells, India Country – Product Senior Manager, Experience Travel Group, UK; Ms. Cecilia Purits, CEO, Samuel Travel / Indienspecialisten, Sweden; Mrs. Britta Seidel, General Manager, Alegroreisen Seidel & Lippmann GBR, Germany; Mr. Hardik Dudakiya, Mice Head, Shakti Travels, Shakti Tourism (India), Gujarat; Mr. Ritesh Mundhara, Director, Choice Holidays India.com, Chattisgarh and Mr. Benjamine Simon, Managing Director, Travel Link Pvt Ltd.