Odisha seems losing the magnetism as a place of 'Best Kept Secret' in India's tourism annals. No more the State's monuments in the golden triangle look an object of 'awe'. The 'Black Pagoda' no more hypnotises the foreign tourists. The excitement is even on the wane among domestic tourists.
As a consequence, Odisha's rank among tourist destinations in the country has taken a beating. The State languishes at the 20th spot since 2017. And the rank in attracting foreign visitors has deteriorated.
Even as the pandemic blow to the inflow of tourists has been hard, the big revelation is over the years the monuments in the golden triangle - Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark - are no more the favourites of both domestic and foreign tourists.
A look at the statistics released by the Union Tourism Ministry on account of the World Tourism Day today, and data over the previous (normal) years, reveal a stagnancy of sorts in the inflow of domestic tourists to the State. The State languishes at a distant 20th rank in the country.
'Sun' Setting Down?
While the Konark Sun temple has been recording a dip in both domestic and foreign visitors since 2016, the Sun temple at Modhera (Gujarat) has been able to turn the tide. Inflow has increased since 2018.
The dip is surprising when Konark Sun temple is still listed by ASI as the 4th most popular site among domestic tourists in the country. However, the exquisite architectural marvel is not a top fav among the foreign tourists who visit the country. every year
For foreign visitors, the excavation sites at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh and the Group of temples at Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu ranked higher than Odisha's marvels.
Almost all the monuments like - Rajarani temple, Buddhist sites etc - in the golden triangle have been recording a dip in tourist inflow since 2016. The State is yet to arrest the tide.
Tamil Nadu Vs Odisha
As Tamil Nadu has been ranked the number 1 tourist destination in the country since 2015, a comparative study hints at many 'Soul'- searching facts for Odisha.
Though the pandemic had seen a sharp slide in tourist inflow to both Tamil Nadu and Odisha, TN has increased its share in total domestic tourists traffic in the country. In 2016, TN's share in India was 21 percent, the number increased to 23 percent in 2020.
- Tamil Nadu - 2020 - Domestic tourist inflow - 14 crore
- Tamil Nadu - 2016 - Domestic visitors inflow - 34 crore.
- Odisha -------- 2020 - Domestic Tourist Inflow -- 23.76 lakh
- Odisha --------- 2016 - Domestic Visitors count -- 1.28 crore
When Tamil Nadu witnessed a 59 percent drop, Odisha numbers down by over 82 percent.
Since tourist traffic to centrally protected monuments is only available in the public domain, a glance outlines the fault lines in Odisha.
- All the centrally protected monuments in Odisha (mostly located in the golden triangle) have been recording a dip in tourist inflow since 2016.
- In Tamil Nadu, the year 2016 had seen a net 7 percent negative inflow of tourists to the protected monuments. By 2019, it had recorded a 32 percent rise in domestic visitors.
- Tamil Nadu's Secret: The State has added two new sites to the protected list. But none was added to by Odisha.
- Temple tourism declining in Odisha. But a big jump was seen in Tamil Nadu's Mamallapuram and Muvarkoil Kodambalur temple spots.
- Tamil Nadu gaining big in fort tourism. Odisha is yet to come up with a Fort package to showcase.
- Across the country, the trend observed is tourist inflow is on the rise in the realm of fort tourism.