Bhubaneswar: Footfall of foreign tourists to the state has declined considerably this year. Till November only 53,280 foreign tourists visited the state, informed tourism minister Ashok Panda in the Assembly on Friday. Meanwhile, the state government has plans to ramp up tourism sector in the state.
While the number of foreign tourists visiting Odisha was 66,971 in 2015, the numbers have fallen drastically. Though the reasons for the decline have not been ascertained, the tourism minister said that all facilities have been taken care of to make tourists’ visit comfortable in the state.
“We have 357 identified tourism sites and 80 Pantha Niwas and Pantha Shalas across the state. The state government is further focusing on improving the tourism infrastructure,” said Panda.
The famous Bhitarkanika National Park has already been included in the tentative world heritage sites and the state government hopes it will be included as a permanent heritage site soon, the minister said.
Meanwhile, Buddhist tourism sites will be given emphasis in the upcoming projects with the state government already sending a proposal to the centre to enlist Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri as Buddhist Circuit. Also, a statue of Buddha worth Rs 50 crores will be installed. The 108 feet Budhha statue will be installed at Neulpur hill of Jajpur district
“There is a substantial increase in Budhhist tourists after direct flight from Bhubaneswar to Varanasi,” said tourism minister Panda.
Tribal tourism will also get a boost with state governmnet planning to construct three watch towers on the Malkangiri to Koraput road, Nakati dung and Kathara Gada. Also, a Rs 80 crore project to develop Coastal tourism circuit from Gopalpur to Satapada has been taken up.