Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Tourism Minister of Odisha, talks about the plan of the government to establish Odisha as a better tourism destination
As the current tourism policy is meeting its time period, Odisha Tourism has started the process to formulate a New Tourism Policy. Excerpts from the interview:
What approach Odisha Tourism is adopting to bring the state at the forefront of tourism?
We have adopted multi-pronged approach. The approach starts from policy changes which is going to happen in 2020, changes in Government’s plans and programs, the chief Minister’s charter to take Odisha at the newer height in the tourism by improving the performance of the Department of Tourism like other performing Departments in the government. We are looking at new projects, new investments, aggressive marketing and other fields.
Also, the Centre recently announced 17 iconic tourism sites and Odisha was not included. We all had to take up this very seriously because Konark is one of the UNESCO heritage sites. Now Union Tourism Minister has declared that one of the sites of Odisha will be included in the iconic sites list.
Our Chief Minister has also a written to the Union Tourism Minister. I met the Union Tourism Minister during State Tourism Ministers Conference. It was an error of omission. Most likely, Konark will be included in the list of the iconic sites of the Government of India.
Are you coming out with a New Tourism Policy?
It is not a new policy. The current policy is going to complete it term. The draft policy should be ready by October and the new policy will be in place by January 2020.
What new elements will be incorporated in the new policy?
We are looking at the elements of the different kinds of tourism. We are clearly focused to position Odisha as a good tourism destination. We are developing circuits for religious, Buddhist, coastal etc. We have decided to develop 9 circuits. The idea is to offer all kind of tourism to visitors to the state.
How about air connectivity?
We are coordinating with the Civil Aviation Authorities. We are in talks with AirAsia and they are also interested.
What sort of increase in Tourism Budget is in place?
There is a marginal increase. However, we are going to get more funds in the Supplementary Budget in December and the 2020 Budget will have more funds as it will the year of tourism.
Odisha is majorly welcoming domestic tourists. Are you looking at tapping the potential of South East Asian countries for Buddhist tourism?
We are looking at all markets. We are going for international promotions through roadshows and travel marts starting from September to February. The plan is already in the place. We are going to 12 international destinations across the world.