Odisha Steps Up Eco-tourism Activity, Plans To Cover More Destinations

The Odisha government plans to develop eco-tourism centres at more of its popular tourist destinations. The Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) has been tasked to acquire non-forest land near tourism destinations and develop the areas to set up hospitality units. Currently, the State has 47 eco-tourism destinations across 18 districts.

As per the decision taken at a high-level meeting headed by Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra, there will be new eco-spots with night stay facilities at Deomali, Karlapat, and Nawana. The Chief Secretary also asked the concerned officials to involve the local community as part of the project, stepping up the community-based management (CBM) model.

“The CBM model has provided alternative and sustainable livelihood to many people who otherwise were dependent on forests. It has also empowered people and infused a sense of belonging towards forest and wildlife,” said the Chief Secretary.

Under the CBM model, approximately 90 per cent of the revenue generated from the eco-spots is shared with members of the respective communities who are managing the facilities. The eco-tourism sites attract both domestic and international tourists, increasing revenue generation.

The tourism centres act as a source of livelihood for many tribal families in Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Malkangiri, Kandhamal, Bargarh, Nayagarh, Koraput, and ten other districts. More than 600 people have been engaged in the management of these spots.

Additional Chief Secretary Mona Sharma reported that the State’s eco-retreat initiative has encouraged private investment in the sector. Hospitality centres and hotels have come up near Daringbadi and Konark. Some investors have also expressed interest in starting private ventures in other spots like Deomali.

The number of visitors at these destinations has increased from 11,500 in 2016-17 to around 57,000 in 2020-21, including foreigners. Statistics from the eco-tourism website showed around 22.82 lakh visitors have come from 30 countries in the world. Tourists from 18 countries including France, Germany, Iran, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, and South Africa have visited the eco-spots with night halts last year. In terms of revenue generation, the numbers have shot up from Rs 1.57 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 8.32 crore in 2020-21.

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