KENDRAPARA: The Bhitarkanika National Park will reopen for tourists from August 5. However, night stay at forest guest houses meant for tourists will not be allowed. The park was closed for visitors from May 1 to July 31 during the mating and nesting seasons of saltwater crocodiles but due to COVID-19, the Forest department extended the closure period to August 8.
Once it reopens, all visitors are required to follow COVID-19 norms including use of masks and maintaining social distance while entering the park where adequate number of forest guards have been deployed to enforce the regulations.
Sanitisers have been kept at several places in the forest and the guest houses, road and other infrastructure renovated, said DFO JD Pati.
The Forest department has made it mandatory for tourists to take local guides in the boat to visit the park for which around 40 youths of nearby villages have been trained. A large number of tourists from West Bengal and other states visit Bhitarkanika during Durga Puja holidays and the same is expected this time.
"We renovated guest houses, roads and other infrastructure recently," he said. Eco-tourism in Bhitarkanika is a big employment generator and can lead to poverty reduction and promotion of socio-economic development, the officer said.