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Pradeep Pattanayak

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday inaugurated Odisha Tourism’s flagship eco-retreat programme at seven locations through virtual mode. 

Like any other sector, tourism in Odisha too is severely affected due to the pandemic. Going to infuse life into it, the State government has inaugurated the eco-retreat programme at seven locations- Konark, Satakosia, Bhitarakanika, Daringibadi, Hirakud, Pati Sonapur and Koraput. 

On the occasion, Tourism Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, who was at Konark eco-retreat location, said the department has left no stone unturned to give tourists once-in-a-lifetime experience. Once landed, they can’t deny themselves getting fully immersed in the picture postcard scenes of the locations, in the lap of nature. The hospitality and a wide range of mouth watering cuisines will leave them wanting for more.

 
As many as 70 luxurious tents of the eco-retreat close to Konark-Puri Balukhand sanctuary and sea coast are all set to welcome their guests. The other eco-retreat locations have also such tents with all the modern facilities. 

The Tourism department sources said, for the time being, the last date set for these eco-retreat locations to entertain their guests is February 28. However, the closing date may be changed, and the decision in this regard will be taken after taking the volume of bookings into consideration. 

“Konark has already had its due place in the world tourism map. The eco-retreat here has been attracting tourists from far and near, and even organisers are also showing their interest for this location. It is needless to say that Konark has always been crucial in giving a boost to the tourism sector of the State,” maintained Minister Samir Ranjan Das. 

Elaborating about the facilities at the eco-retreat locations, Additional Secretary to Government, Tourism Department, Abanikanta Patnaik said the agencies who are looking after the eco-retreat locations will ensure the tourists at the locations enjoy their stay. “Similarly, we have also discussed with the concerned local administrations. They will provide all necessary facilities and, most importantly, safety to the tourists. When they bid adieu, they will have sweet memories that will be cherished for the years to come.”

To enjoy the stay in the lap of nature, tourists have to loosen the string of their purses a little bit. However, common tourists find the package rates unaffordable. 

If a tourist books a room for a night via online, s/he has to pay Rs 10,000, Rs 13,000, Rs 18,000 and Rs 25,000 for a deluxe cottage, premium swiss cottage, royal luxury swiss cottage and presidential suite respectively. 

And, all of these prices are discounted rates. 

Now, the question is arising that can common tourists of Odisha enjoy these facilities offered in their State and can the tourists belonging to the middle class and those coming from out of the state find the package price within their range. 

“The prices are beyond the reach of middle class people like us. We can’t enjoy the eco-retreats. We urge the government to reduce the price so that all can afford the price and enjoy,” a tourist said. 

Echoing the same, another tourist observed that 45 per cent of visitors belong to the middle class and they will find the price out of reach. 

In this regard, hotelier Debu Patnaik said that the package rate will definitely be higher for some. “Whatever price may be fixed, there are some people who always tend to say it is still more. However, dynamic pricing as in case of hotels could have made a difference,” he maintained.
 

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