Odisha Tourism is leading by example to mainstream sustainable tourism

Bhubaneswar: The sector seminar on Tourism Investment conducted at the Make in Odisha Conclave 2018 at Janata Maidan witnessed a packed house receiving deep insights on the tourism development from among the most credible names in the industry.
Shri. Vishal Dev IAS, Commissioner and Secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Odisha gave an elaborate introduction to the State’s tourism scenario, and briefly discussed the investment opportunities in Odisha’s tourism sector. Shri. Dev highlighted that tourist inflow in the state has been consistently growing at 9% CAGR, with tourist spending growing at 21% CAGR. The state government’s focus on infrastructure development along with its aggressive destination promotion campaigns and packed event calendar including the upcoming Men’s Hockey World Cup for which it is the host partner in the capital city, have further fuelled the tourism potential of the state.
Shri. Satyajeet Rajan IAS, Director General (Tourism), Government of India, expressed confidence in the State’s Government’s timely push to tourism, that is well synchronised with the infrastructure and connectivity efforts of the Government of India and of states, primarily through UDAN Regional Air Connectivity Scheme
Shri. Ashok Chandra Panda, Odisha’s Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, reemphasised the state government’s strategic view of the tourism sector, and its planned efforts to boost investment in tourism, chiefly through the Updated Tourism Policy 2016, besides consistent campaigns through events such as FHRAI Annual Convention and Odisha Travel Bazaar 2018, which witnessed participation by 60 foreign tour operators, besides prominent national operators. The IATO Annual Convention 2018 brought the apex body of tour operators to Odisha. The Minister articulated the Government’s approach towards internationalising its tourist destinations by pushing for more direct international air connectivity with Bhubaneswar.
The Minister urged the Government of India to include the Buddhist circuit of Ratnagiri-Lalitgiri-Udayagiri under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme so as to develop the destination to its full potential. The minister gave an account of the Government’s efforts to resolve all pending issues pertaining to land requirements and CRZ clearances for the high profile Shamuka Project in Puri, and called upon investors and entrepreneurs, besides tourism sector associations to complement the Government’s efforts.
The session witnessed two insightful panel discussions which focused on the twin topics of ensuring credible returns on hospitality investment, and sustainable tourism to preserve the essence of Odisha, labelled as ‘India’s best kept secret’.
The topic of ecotourism and its sustainability through community participation generated a lot of enthusiasm. Shri. Suresh Chandra Mahapatra IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Forests & Environment, Government of Odisha, highlighted the fact that Odisha is among the few states whose forest cover has grown in the last 20 years, along with improving forest intensity. He introduced the department’s role in managing about 25 night stay eco-tourism properties which hosted more than 23,000 tourists in 2017, apart from several camping sites, with local community participation.
Hotelier India was the knowledge partner for the tourism sectoral session.
Investment intentions
• Among key investment intents announced during the session, was Mayfair Hotels’ five-star deluxe resort including a golf course at Satapada, besides a complex with a world class Convention Centre and 250 rooms in Bhubaneswar. The group also expressed its intent to invest in luxury eco-tourism properties with cottages, besides investing in select Panthanivas Properties that the State Government intended to lease out to private investors for upgrade, operation and maintenance.
• IntelliStay Hotels, which operates the Mango brand chain, in collaboration with the Grand Mark Infrastructures, reaffirmed its plan to set up two star category hotels catering to MICE tourism with 250 keys and 55 keys at Bhubaneswar and Konark respectively, besides eco-resorts at select locations in the state. The total investment being mooted is approximately INR 100 crore.
• In a boost to the capital city’s luxury hotel infrastructure, Welcome Hotels brand chain of the ITC group, Vivanta by Taj and Ramada chain of Wyndham Hotels, all hope to start welcoming guests later next year.
• Taj Hotels of the Tata Group also plans to invest in a property at Kalinganagar, Jajpur, under it Ginger brand.
• The Lemon Tree Group plans to invest in a luxury hotel in Bhubaneswar.
• Kamat Hotels, which operates properties in Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark, intends to expand its presence in Odisha by building three new properties, besides exploring opportunities to manage ecotourism properties run by the Forest & Environment Department of the state.
• Kabani Tours has expressed its intent to promote community tourism products such as homestays, camp sites, etc. and special projects in heritage walks in the state, besides its plan to invest in training programmes.
• Lodging Real Estate firm SAMHI hotels has also expressed its intent to invest in developing brownfield projects in Bhubaneswar.