The Odisha government is targeting a 30 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrivals at around one lakh travellers in the state this calender year.
In 2016, the state hosted 76,361 foreign tourists, most of them from Sri Lanka, Japan, some European and South Asian nations. “We are witnessing a steady growth in foreign tourist arrivals over the years. In 2016, the state saw over 14 per cent growth in overseas travellers from the previous year.
“This year, we hosted the Asian Athletics Championship that gave us very good opportunity to showcase the state at an international level,” Odisha Tourism Development Corporation managing director Nitin B Jawale told PTI here. “Looking at the current trends, we are expecting 30 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrivals at around one lakh visitors,” he said.
Odisha, he said, has always been attracting overseas holidaymakers who want to explore its rich heritage and culture, and is the place where King Ashoka embraced Buddhism. “We want to promote the state as a leisure destination, which offers history, culture, mangrove forests, eco tourism, beautiful coastline and food, among others. We are working on activities which will encourage these tourists to spend more time in the state,” Jawale added. He said the government is hopeful of attracting a large number of international sightseers to Odisha and for this, different promotional activities are lined up in China, Europe and South East Asia, among others.
“After direct air connectivity with Malaysia, the South Asian countries provide a huge potential for us. We also see huge potential in China. We want to strengthen Europe and the US as our source markets. We are looking at travellers between 25-45 years, as this segment is growing fast,” he added. Further, Odisha is adding 500 rooms in next three years in the star category, he said. Currently, the state has 39,497 rooms under middle to high standard category and 75,152 in the low category. The government, he said, is looking at public-private partnership is setting up 28 smaller properties with 5-25 rooms capacity in ecologically sensitive and interior areas of the eastern state, he said.
Talking about domestic tourism, Jawale said the state is a leading pilgrimage destination for Hindus and gets a very high number of travellers from within the country. In 2016, Odisha hosted over 1.28 core tourists from all over the country. “This year, we are expecting around 5 per cent increase in domestic tourists arrivals,” Jawale added.