Odisha plans to Restart River Cruise Tourism

In a bid to revive the lagging tourism industry, the Odisha government has announced plans to restart river cruise tourism on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy has asked the Tourism Department to chalk out a plan, along with possibilities of innovative tourism activities at a high-level meeting with experts and stakeholders, conducted digitally. The state tourism department will coordinate with the Inland Waterways Authority regarding statutory requirements.

As informed by Tourism Secretary Vishal Dev, three principal river cruise circuits can be developed in river Mahanadi, Chilika lake, and in the water bodies present in the forest near Dangamala including the National Water Way-5 from Dhamara to Paradip.

The Bhitarkanika circuit can connect spots like Chandbali-Aradi-Dhamara-Khola to other spots in the Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary. The circuit could stretch up to five nights and six days. The Chilika circuit can connect Chilika, Kalijai-Nalabana-Honeymoon island, Mangalajodi-Satapada-Rajhans island, and Puri. It could stretch up to three nights and four days.

River cruise is compatible with COVID-19 restrictions. There is a huge scope and latent market for world-class river cruising in Odisha. It can also be connected with many eco-spots and refill the economic activities in the sector.

Asit Tripathy

Meanwhile, issues on various regulatory permissions, compliance to pollution norms, river jetties, and bar licenses were discussed at the meeting. The state government is on board with this project and has assured all support for this activity. The state PPP cell was advised to work out the details in consultation with the Department of Tourism and Odisha Tourism Development Corporation.