New Delhi: Odisha tourism minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi said on Wednesday that Odisha is ready to promote Eco Retreat in five unique locations – Konark, Hirakud, Bhitarkanika, Daringbadi and Satkosia.

Aimed at the timely revival of the tourism and hospitality sector post-Covid-19, Odisha is extensively marketing its flagship campaigns, Odisha By Road complemented by the highly acclaimed Eco Retreat Odisha glamping festival, which is set to begin on 8 December 2020, upto 28 February 2021, he added.

Addressing the Odisha Tourism Virtual Roadshow – 2020’ held for the Raipur, Bilaspur and Durg-Bhilai tourism fraternity, organized by Odisha Tourism and FICCI, Panigrahi said that the Eco Retreats will offer tourists an opportunity to discover Odisha’s diverse tourism offerings, in style.

“Chhattisgarh and Odisha are cultural siblings, with deep-rooted commonalities. Despite this, we have our own unique offerings to exhibit to explorers. Together, our states can make this region the most sought-after winter destination for Indians, looking forward to a getaway after reeling under the pandemic for eight months,” he said.

Tourism secretsry Vishal Kumar Dev said, “Odisha’s excellent road connectivity enables enjoyable road trips throughout the state. We have designed two exciting road itineraries starting from Chhattisgarh, including key destinations such as Hirakud and Debrigarh Sanctuary in one leg and Nrusinghnath and Satkosia Tiger Reserve in the other.”

Providing a glimpse of the upcoming Eco Retreat Odisha, Dev said, “Eco Retreat Hirakud, Satkosia and Daringbadi are easily accessible by road, within 450 km. Worldclass amenities for camping in luxury tents are complemented by experiences ranging from jungle trails to water sports, camp-fires to boat rides, cycling tours to adrenaline pumping games, and lip smacking food. All this comes with Odisha’s stamp of tourist safety assurance, backed by its stellar record in Covid management. The synergised application of SOPs and technology for added safety will secure tourists’ experience at every Eco Retreat.”

To enable concrete measures for the holistic revival of the tourism and hospitality sector, Government of Odisha is planning a series of concurrent legislative and policy measures which will help harmonising investor interests and tourist wellbeing, while offering a conducive environment for the growth of niche tourism offerings such as houseboat and cruise tourism, caravan and camping tourism, arts & crafts tourism and a lot more, added Dev.

Chhattisgarh tourism secretary Anbalagan P said, “Chhattisgarh is focusing on domestic tourism and the state is looking forward to the joint MoU on regional cooperation with Odisha Tourism to restart the tourism exchange between the two states with all safety protocols and guidelines in place. Tourism has the potential to revive the economy which has been impacted by the pandemic.”

Odisha tourism director Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav highlighted the steps taken by Odisha to train the local stakeholders on safety protocols and assured that all the necessary precautions are in place.

Jadhav further mentioned that here are 47 nature camps in Odisha and staffs have been given extensive training on safety measures through various workshops. “A dedicated online portal will update tourists about the safety of the destination to boost their confidence to travel. Odisha is one state with varied experiences like spiritual & heritage tourism, coastland & wetland tourism, eco-tourism, wildlife tourism, handicrafts tourism, ethnic tourism and fairs & festivals,” he added.

FICCI Eastern Region Tourism Committee chairman & Executive Director, Mayfair Hotels & Resorts, Soubhagya Mohapatra said, “Odisha and Chhattisgarh can complement each other with their tourist products. The Odisha by Road campaign by Odisha Tourism is a very innovative campaign to promote tourism between the two states. The state also has many beautiful options for destination weddings.”

Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) (Odisha Chapter) and Dove Tours Pvt Ltd, chairmsn Gagan Sarangi said, “Odisha is safe and the tourism industry of Odisha has taken all the necessary steps for safety and are ready to welcome the tourists.”

Abhishek Lath, Secretary, Hotels and Restaurants Association of Western Odisha,secretary, Hotels and Restaurants Association of Jharsuguda, secretary said Odisha is very well connected through good roads, air and rail. It has everything to cater to different types of segments and tourists.

Bharat Dev, Chapter Chairman, Chhattisgarh – Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) and Founder, Dev Travels, said Domestic tourism is reviving through road trip holidays and this has a huge potential. Odisha Tourism’s initiatives is a learning for the tourism industry on the revival of Tourism. Chhattisgarh tour operators are looking forward to promoting the state for Tourism.

Jaspreet Singh Bhatia, Founder, Ice Cubes Holidays, said that this is high time to focus on domestic tourism especially when Odisha and Chhattisgarh are so well connected. If the road tax between the two states can be removed, this will help to bring down the cost for the travellers.