Tourism picks up pace in Puri
PURI: With easing of restrictions, economic activities in the pilgrim town, are picking up pace. The tourism industry was the worst hit due to the lockdown. But with a gradual rise in demand, hoteliers now have started recalling their staff. General secretary of Hotel Association of Puri (HAP) Rajkishore Patra said hoteliers had expected more visitors for New Year celebrations but government’s restrictions on zero night celebrations has come as a jolt.
However, the number of tourists visiting the town are expected to go up substantially after the Sri Jagannath Temple is reopened for devotees from outside from January 3. Hotel occupancy in the town stands at 15 per cent and the rush of visitors to the Blue Flag and Chandrabhaga beaches augurs well for the tourism sector, Patra said. The district administration too has geared up to give a facelift to the town. While public and government buildings are being whitewashed, paintings of ancient temples can be seen on their compound walls.
Atharnalla, the main entrance to the town is being beautified at a cost of `5 crore. This apart almost all the major roads are being widened and dividers decorated with plants. Work on the heritage corridor around Meghnad Pacheri of Srimandir is going on in full swing. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had visited Puri in October to make an on-spot assessment of the progress of works under the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme and the heritage corridor project.
In his first visit outside the Capital city in seven months after the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Naveen had reviewed in detail the Sri Jagannath temple periphery beautification projects which had been held up due the lockdown. He had asked the administration to complete the land acquisition process for the heritage corridor by January 1, 2021. As per the draft architectural plan, the corridor will be developed on 75-metre area from the Meghnad Pacheri (boundary wall) of the 12th century shrine.
The government has decided to spend `3,208 crore under ABADHA scheme in three years to transform Puri into a world heritage city. Similarly, modernisation of Swargadwar is nearing completion. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had released `5 crore from his relief fund for the purpose. With the sea beach now open for visitors, hundreds of life guards have been deployed at the spot to ensure their safety.