Bhubaneswar: The eco-tourism drive taken up by Odisha government has made remarkable headway in the last 3 years. Footfall and revenue generation has increased manifold.
The online eco-tourism website of the state www.reotourodisha.com is often visited by nature lovers from 103 countries from different parts of the globe, this was known from the discussions of Eco-Tourism Board Meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Aditya Prised Padhi.
Reviewing the progress, Padhi directed the department to involve more local people to provide them alternative livelihood options. He further directed to promote private entrepreneurs in the sector for development of more spots and creation of more employment opportunities for people of the locality. Tourism department was asked to initiate steps for identifying appropriate land near eco-spots for the development of infrastructural facilities.
The Board decided to organize National Bird Festival at Mangalajodi (Chilika) during January-February of 2019. The proposal regarding launching conducted tours from Bhubaneswar to Bhitarkanika, Mangalajodi, Nandankanan and Chandaka was also discussed and approved in the meeting.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) Sandeep Tripathy said that as of now 37 eco-tourist destinations have been developed and made open to the visitors in different parts of the state. Around 294 tent rooms with a capacity of accommodating 850 persons per day have been put into the services of the visitors.
Around 1000 local people including both men and women are getting additional livelihood support from the activities like hospitality, home keeping, care, conservation and other ancillary activities in these 37 spots.
The number of people engaged in these works will increase with increasing number of visitors and tourists to these spots. Online booking system has facilitated international booking for visit to the spots.
Seventy two booking facilities have been provided in different states of India. The income generated from different spots are shared with respective coo development committee and members engaged in hospitality and home keeping.
Review revealed that an amount of Rs 34 crore has been invested in the development of these eco-tourism spots from 2016-17 to 2018-19. The revenue generation from tourism activities in these spots within this period has touched Rs 4 crore.
Taking into consideration the present rate of booking for these spots, the revenue generation is expected to reach Rs 6 crore by end of the current fiscal year.
It may be pertinent here to mention that the eco-tourism spots are being managed by the Forest and Environment Department of the state government. The department has estimated that the revenue generation from the eco-tourism will reach Rs 10 crore by the financial year 2019-20.
The spots attracting more foreign and domestic tourists include Damgmala (Bhitarkanika), Debrigarah, Satkosia Sands, Chhotkei Nature Camp, Kumari Nature Camp, Tikarapada Nature Camp, Jamunai Nature Camp, Nuanai Nature Camp and Daringibadi Nature Camp.
The eco-tourism spots have been made polythene free. Chief Secretary Padhi directed to keep up the sanitation and hygiene of the spots.
The department was further asked to impart skill development training to the local people in the areas of tourism and hospitality.