Abduction to impact Odisha tourism, HRAO

Bhubaneswar: Voicing concern over the abduction of two Italians by Maoists in Kandhamal, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) on Friday said it would have an adverse impact on the "limping" tourism sector in the state.

"The incident is a blow to state`s limping tourism sector, which had recently geared up to create a niche in the national map besides focussing on ways to draw a large number of foreign visitors," HRAO president J K Mohanty said in a statement.

Restrictions earlier imposed in tribal areas and now the abduction of two Italians had created confusion, sending a wrong message to tour and travel operators around the world, especially in the European Union, he said.

"Tourism is an upcoming service sector industry in Odisha, which works as a catalyst for GNP growth of the state and create a larger employment opportunity, with a higher cost investment ratio. Odisha Government`s proactive role in brand building and campaign for Visit Odisha Year has got a retreat," Mohanty said.

The inflow of foreign tourist was 50,000 during 2010 and was expected to register a growth of 10 per cent each year, he said adding derailment of any kind will have an adverse effect on the hotel industry, Mohanty said.

The HRAO requested the government to take appropriate steps and urged Maoists to free the two Italian hostages, Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo, immediately.