Bhubaneswar: Encouraged with the response of tourists in eco-tourism sites, Chief Secretary SC Mahapatra Friday asked respective officials to identify more natural sites for eco-tourism and boating facility.
Holding a high-level meeting here, Mahapatra directed the collectors, Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs), and Water Resource department engineers to identify more spots having greater potential for development to eco-tourism and eco-recreation centers.
He directed the officers of concerned departments to identify around 100 suitable sites in water bodies through joint enquiry for setting up of jetties and boating facilities.
The Forest department was also directed to identify around 15 forest tracks for giving jungle safari experience to the tourists.
Mahapatra made it clear that the locations should be identified on the basis of objective criteria of exotic experience to the tourists, and, their competitiveness for being popularized in international market.
Proper choice of the location and their popularization will attract private investment to the sector soon, and that will take state’s eco-tourism to the next level, he stated.
The Chief Secretary suggested converting the tents at eco-spots to cottages with proper fire safety precautions. He emphasized on making the community management model more professional with appropriate training and orientation to the local community, Van Surakhya Samiti (VSS) and self help groups.
Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment department Mona Sharma said, “Community ecotourism devised by Odisha has proved to be the best practice leading to expected outcomes.
In recent years Odisha has evolved as the only state on national level to have started community ecotourism.” Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) wild life, Sashi Paul said that as of now, 47 destinations spreading over 18 districts have been operationalised in the state.
These locations have 333 cottages with accommodation capacity of 705 persons. Four spots, namely Nrusinghnath in Bargarh district, Koraput pine forest in Koraput, Patora dam site in Nuapada and Tensa in Sundargarh, are at the finishing stage of commissioning.
These spots will have night halt facility for the tourists. According to sources, the number of visitors at the eco-destinations has increased from 11,500 in the year 2016 to 40,019 in the year 2019- 20.
Defeating the wreck caused by Covid-19, the number of tourists to eco-destinations touched 57,000 just within five months (November to March, 2021) during the year 2020- 21.
The revenue collection from this activity has also increased from Rs 1.57 crore to Rs 8.32 crore during the Covid period.