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State to launch Sanctuary Tourism to beat abduction blues

Bhubaneswar: With the abduction of two Italians hitting tourism in the state, the state government has decided to launch as sepcial package of adventure cum pleasure trips to woo tourists.

Tourists visiting state are mainly interested in exploring tribal areas and eco-tourism, but the kidnap of Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo, the two Italians, who were visiting some areas in the Daringbadi Tahsil of Kandhamal district last March have scared them.

"We hope Sanctuary Tourism will restore confidence of tourists," Forest and Environment Minister Debi Prasad Mishra told PTI here.

Apart from the abduction saga, the tourism sector was also hit by restrictions imposed on entry of foreigners into tribal and Naxal-hit areas in the aftermath of the hostage crisis, he pointed out. Mishra said the Tourism Department with the help of the Forest and Environment Department is now formulating an Eco-Tourism policy of which Sanctuary Tourism is a part.

Though the state boasts of two national parks, 18 sanctuaries, one biosphere reserve, two notified and one proposed tiger reserves and three elephant reserves, the new project is proposed to be launched at Similipal, Bhitarkanika and Satkosia from the next tourist season starting from October.

As part of the new measures aimed to attract visitors, the tourists interested to visit Bhitarkanika National Park would get facilities like natural trail, cottages and toilets, which would be implemented by the Mangrove Forest Division, Rajnagar, the minister said.

"The facilities at Bhitarkania will be ready by this summer-end. The Pampasar, Labangi, Tikarpada, Chhamundia and Baliput will be having interpretation Centres and see more amenities for visitors," the minister said.

Those keen to visit Bhitarkania would be provided with opportunities to experience the beauty of nature, which covers 31 per cent of its land with forests, supporting 86 species of Mammals, 473 species of birds, 100 species of reptiles and more than 3000 species of plants including orchids, mangrove and medicinal plants.

In the Pradhanpat area in Deogarh Forest Division, the interpretation centre will be implemented by renovating the existing old structure, the officials said.

The Khandadhar Waterfall, under Bonai Forest Division, would be made attractive by investing Rs one crore. Facilities in Saptasajya, under the Dhenkanal Forest Division, and Rajhans, under the Chilika Wild Life Division, will be upgraded and floating jetties provided for tourists.

Besides officials, the principal secretary in the Tourism Department and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) would oversee preparedness for the coming tourism season and ensure a hassle-free experience.

"It has also been decided to share the components of prepared eco-tourism policy so that the draft policy prepared by F&E Department can be finetuned. The alliance between two Departments and common strategy will boost the economic prospect of the stake-holders of these areas," said tourism minister Prafulla Samal.

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