BHUBANESWAR: The Tourism Department on Thursday inked a pact with Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation (KSINC) to acquire technical support in planning and developing diverse water tourism and recreation products.
The State boasts of 482-km coastline and eight major reservoirs besides Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon Chilika and several other pristine water bodies were setting up sustainable water sports, recreation facilities and tourism property like houseboats is feasible.
Minister for Tourism, Odia Language Literature and Culture Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi said Odisha has already established its brand identity as India’s best kept secret and the partnership would help diversify the State’s water tourism offerings.
“We must keep innovating to refine the quality of experiences and sustain curiosity among tourists. Odisha has always accorded priority to collaboration over competition, and our partnering with Kerala is a watershed,” he said.
After the familiarisation trips to Chilika and Tampara lakes besides Bhitarkanika and Gopalpur organised by department for houseboat and water sports operators and investors in July last year, the State has received several single window proposals in the segment.
While five water sports projects have been operationalised at Tampara, Gopalpur, Barkul, Chandrabhaga and Naraj (Cuttack), the department has invited tenders for operation and management of floating restaurants at select locations in Chilika lake.
“Besides water sports, we have decided to introduce houseboats in Chilika, Bhitarkanika backwaters and Hirakud reservoir, which will offer the best of the State’s eco-tourism potential harmonised with adventure, leisure and experiences in local cultures and hospitality,” said Tourism Secretary Vishal Kumar Dev.
KSINC Managing Director Prashant Nair signed the MoU with Tourism Director Sachin Ramchandra Yadav. Nair said the collaboration would help Odisha Tourism to plan and develop water based tourism in the State in a structured and sustainable manner.
A technical team of KSINC is scheduled to conduct an extensive field trip and submit preliminary technical reports to the State Government soon.
The Tourism Department has also come up with plans to operationalise river cruises along the stretches of National Waterways in the State and other viable stretches. Inland Waterways Authority of India and the State counterpart are in the process of conducting detailed feasibility studies.