Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has some big plans for the tourism sector, courtesy its pristine 482-km-long coastline and the numerous water bodies and wetlands across the state.
In keeping with its vision, the government launched a three-day familiarisation trip to Bhitarkanika National Park and Chilika Lake for the owners and operators of luxury houseboats, water sports and recreation projects from across the country, Odisha Tourism said.
As many as 18 firms, comprising participants from Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana and West Bengal, besides Odisha participated in the tour.
They visited Bhitarkanika’s mangrove swamps, which have earned the sobriquet of ‘India’s Amazon’ among new visitors, and the Chilika Lake region at Rambha and Satapada, followed by Tampara Lake.
Following the tour, officials from Alappuzha (Alleppey) and Ernakulam (Kochi) districts of Kerala shared their insights from regulatory, promotional, technical and environmental perspectives. The interactive session at the end had the participants come up with suggestions on infrastructure development for the success of niche segments, safety and security concerns, experience packaging, among others.
During the session, the participants gave their detailed feedback, which indicated a general excitement and eagerness to start operations. “Tampara Lake, with its 7-km unhindered length, holds the potential to host international sporting events, such as banana boat races,” said one participant.
“Chilika Lake is the most beautiful wetland I have visited in my 25-year career in water recreation and tourism,” revealed another.
The Department of Tourism also intends to give incentives on investments in niche sectors such as water recreation, houseboat tourism and night camping through policy interventions.
“The government has very aggressively promoted water sports and recreation tourism in recent times. We are laying special policy focus on niche tourism segments such as houseboat tourism, which seamlessly mingles with ecotourism and water recreation,” said Commissioner cum Secretary, Department of Tourism, Vishal Dev.
“Odisha has a habit of creating benchmarks and workable models for sustainable enterprise. In this case too, we shall jointly strive to synergise the various segments of water-based tourism as a sustainable segment.”