Odisha plans river cruises to boost tourism in times of pandemic
Bhubaneswar: In its bid to keep hospitality sector viable during the pandemic, Odisha Government on Thursday asked Tourism department to start river cruises on select water bodies under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode. The direction was issued by Chief Secretary A K Tripathy while exploring the possibility of cruise tourism at a meeting with experts and stakeholders.
“River cruising is compatible with COVID-19 restrictions. There is huge scope and latent market for world class river cruising in Odisha,” Tripathy said.
Tourism Secretary V K Dev said three principal river cruise circuits can be developed on Mahanadi river, Chilika Lake and in waterways in Dangmala reserve forest. Bhitarkanika circuit in Dangmala reserve forest can connect destinations like Chandbali-Aradi-Dhamara-Khola to other spots in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, he said. Chilika circuit can link Chilika, Kalijai-Nalabana-Honeymoon island, Mangalajodi-Satapada-Rajhans island-Satapada and Puri.
Issues relating to regulatory permissions, compliance to pollution norms and construction of river jetties were also discussed at the meeting. The State PPP cell was directed to work out details of the plan in consultation with Tourism department and Odisha Tourism Development Corporation.
The Chief Secretary also asked Tourism department to coordinate with Inland Waterways Authority regarding statutory requirements. Odisha has a long coast line of around 482 km, five major rivers and water bodies including Chilika, the largest brackish water lake of Asia.