3000 senior citizens to go on subsidised pilgrimage in July

Bhubaneswar: The senior citizen pilgrimage tour programme launched by the Odisha government would begin from Berhampur in July this year.

“In the first phase of the programme, about 1000 senior citizens would tour several tourist destinations in South India,” Tourism and Culture minister Ashok Panda told media persons after attending the review meeting of his department presided over by chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the State Secretariat here today.

He said the three-month tour programme will begin from July every year. Apart from Berhampur, the tour will start simultaneously from Bhubaneswar and Sambalpur. The destination of the tour from Bhubaneswar will be Banaras and Allahabad while from Sambalpur it will be Haridwar and Rishikesh.

While about 3000 senior citizens would avail the pilgrimage opportunity this year, their number will go up to 6000 in 2017 and 9,000 in 2018.

For senior citizens under BPL category, the pilgrimage tour will be free of cost while senior citizens under APL category will have to pay 50 percent of the travel cost.

The meeting also discussed the subsidies to be given by the state government to the SilkAir Private Ltd and Tiger Airways Singapore Pvt Ltd in Singapore who have proposed direct air connectivity to South Asian countries.

Among other things, relaxation of rules for the tourists to visit Scheduled Tribe (ST) areas, formation of land bank for new hotels and tourism projects, more focus on Buddhist circuits, creation of employment opportunity for the youths in the Tourism sector and provision for adequate security to the tourists were also discussed.