ODISHA is banking on its allure as a Buddhist tourism destination to draw arrivals from South-east Asian countries such Thailand and Malaysia and reach its annual arrivals target.
The state recorded around 70,000 international tourist arrivals in the fiscal year 2013/2014.
"We are looking to promote our diamond circuit, which comprises the Buddhist sites of Udyagiri, Lalitgiri and Ratnagiri, in South-east Asia. Presently, we are receiving around 3,000 tourists from South-east Asia which is not encouraging. We are targeting 100,000 international arrivals and the South-east Asian region will be our focus," said MR Patnaik, director, tourism, Government of Odisha.
To that end, the board is planning to start roadshows in South-east Asia in April and has multiplied its budget to develop infrastructure that meets international standards, such as hotels and roads.
"Our tourism budget was Rs700 million (US$11.5 million), which we have increased to Rs3.6 billion (US$59.2 million) for the financial year 2014-2015," said Patnaik. Odisha has earmarked Rs1 billion (US$16.4 million) for the diamond circuit and the golden circuit that comprises Konark, Puri and Bhubaneswar.
“International arrivals are expected to increase with Odisha getting its first international airport in the form of Biju Pattnaik International airport last year (TTG Asia e-Daily, January 27, 2014). Odisha has many sites of importance for Buddhists so promoting such places in South-east Asia will help the state to draw more international tourists,” said Ranjan Kumar Mishra, managing director, Eastern Voyage.
“Developing infrastructure and tourist facilities at Buddhist sites will go a long way in attracting international tourists especially from neighbouring South-east Asian countries. At present we get few international guests in our properties. With the international airport coming up in Bhubaneswar and promotional efforts of the government, we expect numbers to grow in coming months,” said Jyoti Ranjan Pattanaik, regional manager-sales, The Crown.