A large number of amenities built at tourist spots by the Government are either lying unused or incurring heavy loss for more than a decade now.
Tourism Department’s Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) owns properties including tourist complexes, wayside amenities, tourist accommodation units like Pantha Nivas, Panthasala, Panthika etc., spread across 24 different tourist projects in the State. In 2012-13, six Panthasalas at Biraja, Dhabaleswar, Aradi, Gupteswar, Kapilas, Taratarini and Khiching, wayside amenities centre at Girisola, tourist complex at Daringbadi and Yatri Nivas at Chadaneswar posted a cumulative loss of `96,32,200.
While Panthasalas at Patharajpur and Bhattarika in Cuttack, Sarankul in Nayagarh, Kendrapara, Panthika at Koraput’s Sunabeda, have had near zero occupancy from 2008-09 till the last financial year, occupancy at units in places like Aradi, Taratarini, Nrusinghanath, Gupteswar, Kapilas, Bangiriposhi, Rameswar, Khandagiri and Khiching registered occupancy percentage between five and 60 per cent.
Just eight domestic visitors preferred to stay at the tourist complex at Daringbadi in Kandhamal in 2011-12, which registered zero occupancy in the following financial year.
Sources said although a large amount of funds are being pumped in by the Department for annual maintenance of the units, not much is visible on the development front which keeps the tourists away.
Arrival of foreign tourists to these 24 OTDC properties has been negligible in the last 13 years.
Stakeholders in the industry said lack of maintenance and marketing were the reasons why the department’s accommodation projects were draining money. So far no serious attempts have been made for stock taking the performance of these units. Minister of Tourism, Maheswar Mohanty said the Department is in the process of identifying loss-making and idle hotel properties and give them either on lease or enter into a joint venture (JV) agreement with parties to repair and operate them.
“There are many such units which have never been put to use and we are unnecessarily spending money to maintain them,” he admitted.
Mohanty pointed out that OTDC’s hotel tariffs are low and they are not in a position to hike it unless residencies are repaired and upgraded. “In future, we would develop hotel properties only in areas which are in the radius of 100 to 150 km from State Capital, beaches, Buddhist and eco-tourism sites,” the Minister said.