SUBJECT :Earlier, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) had introduced the houseboat facility at Chilika, Asia’s biggest brackish water lagoon. 

Bhubaneswar, January 20, 2019:  Odisha Government is set to encourage private houseboat facilities at three major destinations in the State as a part of its endeavour to boost inbound tourist flow and enhance their experience.“We have decided to allow private sector houseboats at Chilika, Hirakud and Bhitarkanika, most sought after tourist hot spots. The focus will be on a clean and eco-friendly mechanism to ensure that the ecology of the water bodies is protected,” Tourism Secretary Vishal Kumar Dev told reporters after a meeting of Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) on Saturday.

Earlier, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) had introduced the houseboat facility at Chilika, Asia’s biggest brackish water lagoon. The houseboat having facility to accommodate two families was launched at Barkul.While such facilities are a big hit at places like Jammu and Kashmir, Goa and Kerala, Odisha Government believes it can woo more foreign and inland tourists by offering them houseboats.

“We have 357 identified tourism spots and with limited budget it is difficult to develop all spots the way it should be. That’s why we have decided to focus on eight specific tourist circuits including Golden Triangle, Buddhist Circuit and eco-tourism spots like Bhitarkanika, Hirakud and Debrigarh apart from some beach resorts,” Dev said.A master plan will be prepared for Konark and Bhitarkanika for which the availability of land is being assessed.

On flight connectivity, the Tourism Secretary said the State Government has also decided to issue an expression of interest seeking proposals from airlines for direct link between Bhubaneswar and Colombo.

The TAC was chaired by Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi and issues like land related to tourism projects in Puri-Konark marine drive, status of Shamuka beach project, movement of tourists in tribal areas and identification of new tourist destinations were discussed.Focus will be on eco-tourism spots by involving local communities which would help boost their economic condition behinds tourism promotion, he added.

Chairman of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) Gagan Sarangi, who attended the meeting, hailed the decision to introduce Visa on arrival facility at Biju Patnaik International Airport. “Hopefully we can add more inbound tourists from countries like Malaysia and Thailand,” he added.