BHUBANESWAR: Odisha government has decided to train local community members as naturalists and tourist guides and deploy them at key places of attraction ahead of the Eco Retreat events planned at five destinations in the State this winter.
Once trained, the naturalists and guides will accompany the tourists explaining to them about the landscape during their visit to the destinations and trekking, birding, boating and other activities in the nature camps set up at potential locations.
The Odisha Wildlife Wing has already signed an MoU with the Biodiversity Board for the 15-day training of around 600 community members, of whom over 50 per cent are women. Institute of Hotel Management and Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management have been roped in for the programme.
Tourism Director Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav said in the first phase, 50 each for Bhitarkanika, Satkosia and the diamond triangle (Buddhist sites of Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri) will be trained. “Since we have planned Eco Retreats from December to February, we want the naturalists and guides be trained well before the events,” he said.
After the success of the first edition of Eco Retreat at Ramchandi beach in Konark, Odisha Tourism has invited applications from potential organisers for similar events at Satkosia, Bhitarkanika, Daringibadi and Hirakud apart from Konark.
"The trained naturalists and guides will accompany the tourists during day tours planned to be organised during the events. There will be a fixed remuneration for them to be paid by the tourists. Such an arrangement will boost the local economy," Jadhav said.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Eco Tourism) Anshu Pragyan Das said the training that was postponed due to Covid-19 will start in the first week of October. “Well conversant with local flora and fauna and landscape, the community members will be trained in Odia, Hindi and English languages. The naturalists will be deployed at 40 eco-tourist sites,” she added.
With the State Government emphasising on entrepreneurship in the tourism and hospitality sector, the Tourism Director said there are many small and medium businesses which can be taken up by the people with minimal investments. The department has already identified some of the entrepreneurial options like setting up wayside amenities along highways and destinations, organising experiential tours, setting up small museums and bike rental business.