Second Wave of Covid-19 Delivers Fresh Blow to Odisha’s Tourism Industry

Odisha’s tourism industry, which has been severely hit due to the pandemic, is facing yet another setback as fears of a second wave of Covid-19 grips the State. Tourist places like Puri have been brought under strict surveillance by the district administration as tourists from high-risk states such as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab have paid visits. 

As per reports, the state government could consider imposing stringent curbs on the arrival of tourists to Odisha if the Covid situation worsens in the coming days. Samarth Verma, the district collector of Puri held a meeting with the Hotel Association of Puri (HAP) and sought their cooperation to step up the vigilance on tourists coming from Covid hotspot zones.

“We have set up a screening camp at the Puri railway station. Tourists from the 5 states should carry RT PCR negative certificates, taken 72 hours prior, to avoid 7-day home isolation. Those vaccinated should carry vaccination certificates to avoid isolation. We have sensitized the hoteliers,” Verma said. 

“Since the COVID infection is spreading fast, the government may completely ban the arrival of tourists to Odisha in the next few days. Some of us, who was slowly recovering from the massive losses of Fani and COVID in the last two years, would be ruined,” HAP secretary Raj Kishore Patra stated. Hoteliers in Puri have agreed to the implementation of stricter norms.

Vishal Dev, the state tourism secretary said, “As of now, we are allowing tourists to visit Odisha. This is as such a lean season for us as many people do not travel during the summer. We are laying stress on strict enforcement of the COVID-appropriate protocols. Any decisions taken by the government would be implemented by district collectors following assessment of the ground situation”. 

The state government has directed visitors from Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to either carry RT-PCR negative reports or vaccination certificates to avoid seven-day self-isolation. 

The overall footfall of tourists in Odisha fell from a total of 1,54,22,765, including 1,15,128 foreigners in 2019 to only 46,32,479, with 10,206 foreigners in 2020 due to the pandemic.

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