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9 per cent growth in tourist arrival in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Over Rs 258 crore was spent in last three years to boost tourism infrastructure in Odisha where foreign tourist arrival jumped by 14 per cent and that of overall visitors by 9 per cent during the period.

“The tourist arrival in the state has gone up from 98,66,810 in 2013 to 1,29,19,260 in 2016, recording a growth rate of nine per cent per annum,” state’s Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda told reporters.

“Similarly, the foreign tourist arrival frew from 66,675 in 2013 to 76,361 in 2016, posting a growth of 14 per cent,” he said while briefing on the achievements of his departmet in last three years.

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As part of a series of steps taken by the state government to boost tourism, an amount of Rs 258.96 crore was spent in the last three years for upgradation of infrastructure in tourism sector, the minister said.

Listing steps taken for attracting tourists, Panda said Bhubaneswar airport was declared an international airport which has helped in increasing the number of tourist arrival.

Air India is operating a direct flight from Varanasi to Bhubaneswar four days a week which would improve footfall of Buddhist tourists to the state, he said adding direct flight service between Bhubaneswar and Kuala Lumpur has been established by Air Asia.

Panda said Chief Minister Naveep Patnaik has also written to the Centre to provide visa on arrival facility in Bhubaneswar airport in the light of the new direct international air connectivity.

In order to promote Buddhist tourism, the fourth Kalinga International Buddhist Conclave was held at Udayagiri and Bhubaneswar from April 10 to 12 this year which was attended by scholars and researchers as well as tour operators from within the country and abroad, he said.

Steps are also being taken for public display of relic excavated from various sites, while a state-of-the-art museum for displaying Buddhist archaeological finds is coming up at Lalitgiri, the Minister said adding a light and sound programme has been made operational at Dhauli near here.

A number of steps have been taken during the last three years to boost beach and ethnic tourism as well as heritage and eco tourism, he said.

Regarding investment in tourism sector, the minister said the new tourism policy launched in November 2016 offers incentives in the form of capital subsidies up to Rs 10 crore and Rs 15 crore for projects below and above Rs 50 crore.

The single window clearance committee has cleared 26 tourism projects under the tourism policy which also offers and allotment from land bank to private sector for taking up tourism projects, Panda said.

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