Bhubaneswar: Despite having a huge tourism potential in the state, the footfall of foreign tourists to Odisha has declined in 2016.
“Till November, only 53,280 foreign tourists visited the state,” Tourism minister Ashok Panda said in the Assembly today.
The number of foreigners visiting Odisha in 2015 was 66,971.
The Minister, however, could not identify the reasons behind the low turnout of foreign tourists to the state.
The state government was taking all measures and providingfacilities to the tourists, Panda said, adding Odisha government has plans to ramp up tourism sector in the state.
The Bhitarkanika National Park was included in the tentative world heritage sites and the state government hoped it would be included as a permanent heritage site, he said.
With the new tourism policy in force, the state governmentwill give adequate importance to the Buddhist tourism siteswhich may attract more foreign tourists to Odisha, theMinister said.
Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri are major Buddhist destinations in the state
“There is a substantial increase in Budhhist tourists after direct flight from Bhubaneswar to Varanasi,” he said.
The state government has been planning to construct threewatch towers on the Malkangiri to Koraput road, Nakati dungand Kathara Gada to boost tribal tourism.
Also, a Rs 80-crore project to develop Coastal tourism circuit from Gopalpur to Satapada has been taken up, the Minister added.