The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page – Saint Augustine
Traveling is the way of life for most of us. This will energise the inner strength as well as the soul. And Odisha is a rich hub for tourists with its immense scenic beauty, nature and the strategically geographical location. The state is endowed with promising tourism potential in terms of tourism resources, income generation and employment generation; direct as well as indirect. The sector contributes significantly to the economy, from local to state level in terms of employment and income generation, foreign exchange earnings and value addition for the State economy. The ratio of indirect jobs to direct jobs in tourism sector is approximately 3:1. In Odisha, tourism is a labour intensive sector. The sector contributes significantly to the economy, from local to state level in terms of employment and income generation, foreign exchange earnings and value addition for the State economy. Odisha has a high intensity of overnight domestic tourism, with an average of 541 trips per 100 households, as compared to the all India average 418 trips per 100 households as per National Council of Applied Economic Research, 2015 report.
Year-wise Tourist in Odisha (2007-2016)
Tourism Sector has grown considerably in recent years on account of good infrastructure facilities, favourable government policies, improvement of existing tourist locations, development of new tourist destinations and strong growth of hotel and restaurant industry in the state.
The tourism department has adopted a multi-prong strategy to promote tourism aggressively in the source market. During 2016-17, the tourist arrival in the State was 129.19 lakh against 118.53 lakh in 2015-16 with a growth rate of 8.99 percent over previous year. This steady increase in tourist arrival is partly attributable to regular and extensive marketing.
Capital Spending in Tourist Infrastructure
The government is spending on infrastructure building of tourist destinations. The development of tourist infrastructure include construction of roads, public convenience centre, interpretation centre, wayside amenities centre, Panthanivas, Panthashala, illumination, floating musical fountain etc. at tourist points. The State Government has promoted the tourist infrastructure development in the State with high priority by increasing the funds provision from Rs 1,375 lakh in 2012-13 to Rs 7,593 lakh in 2016-17.
Tourist Destinations in Odisha
Odisha has 357 number of identified tourist destinations located all over 30 districts of the State. Cuttack (28), Balasore (22), Ganjam(22), Puri(21), Mayurbhanj(19) and Khorda (19) are the leading districts of tourist destinations. The ‘Golden Triangle’ of Bhubaneswar-Puri-Konark is the biggest tourist attraction. Puri, the shrine of Lord Jagannath, one of the oldest pilgrimage centres, famous for the Car festival, attracts lakhs of pilgrims round the year.
The world famous Sun Temple, a UNESCO heritage site at Konark (12th century), and the temple city of Bhubaneswar (9th century) are other major tourist attractions. The ‘Tri-Ratna Triangle’ comprising Lalitgiri, Udayagiri and Ratnagiri is yet another attraction for the Budhists from eastern countries. The Ashokan rock-inscriptions of 3rd Century BC at Dhauli where the historic war of Kalinga was fought is testimony to the existence of strong Buddhist tradition in Odisha. The sanctuaries and wildlife parks viz. Bhitarkanika, Similipal National Park, Chandaka Elephant Reserve, Nandankanan and Chilika Lake with migratory birds are some of the major natural tourist attraction points of Odisha. Apart from those currently identified as tourist attractions, there are several others in the state, particularly in western and southern parts of the state that are yet to be developed for popular tourism with adequate tourist infrastructure.
A Short Movie on Tourist Destinations in Odisha
Courtesy: Odisha Tourism, Youtube Videos