By Odisha Story Bureau, Bhubaneswar:
IATO 33rd Convention
The pace of development in Tourism Sector in Odisha has become manifold. With developments of infrastructure, connectivity and hospitality facilities, the state is emerging as one of the favoured tourist destinations in the country, said Sri Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister, Tourism and Culture, Odisha. Sri Panda extended invitation to the investors and important stakeholders in tourism industry to have their presence felt in the state while interacting with the delegates and participants during a session “Odisha-The Makings of an Exciting Tourism Destination” in the ongoing 33rd Annual Convention of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) here today.
In the realm of tourism, Odisha has some of the stunning and attractive destinations and these should be treated with innovation, exploration and exposure. Presently the growth of tourist arrival to the state is about 9% which is more than the global tourist arrival of 4%. This increasing trend is a positive sign to expose the strength of Odisha, which is culturally oriented. New tourism products like eco, heritage, tribal and beach tourism etc have gained momentum and the state is poised to become one of the most favoured tourism hub of the country with similar pace like Goa, Tamilnadu and Keral etc, said Dr. Mona Sharma, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Govt of Odisha.
Celebrated travel experts and panelists participated in the session including Pranab Sarkar, Vice-president IATO and Managing Director, Swagatam Tours, J K Mohanty, Chairman, IATO, Eastern Region and CMD, Swasti Group, Gagan Sarangi, Chairman, Odisha Chapter and MD, Dove Tours. Reema Lokesh, Editor, “Express Travel World” moderated the session. Nitin Bhanudas Jawale, Director, Tourism, Govt of Odisha had a splendid presentation on Odisha tourism while saying the state has its Tourism Policy-2016 which has been more lucrative in the country for investment having features like substantial incentives and land bank facilities. Elaborate discussion was held on development of Odisha’s ethnic tourism where the Govt has lifted restriction on the tourists visiting tribal areas. The participants emphasized on Odisha’s ample tourism resources that can make the state as one of the significant destinations in India and South-Asian region.
There were sessions “Next Generation-Challenges and Opportunities”, “Moving Beyond Culture and Heritage”, “Aviation-New Policies and New Opportunities”, “FAITH and the GST Journey” and “Marketing-Stop Serving Old Wine in a New Bottle” in which Homa Mistry, CEO, Trail Blazers Tours; R H Khwaja, Ex-Sec, Tourism , Govt of India; Barun Channa, Walter Thompson Worldwide; Hemant Mediratta, Vice-president Oberoi Group; Rajeev Kohli, JMD, Creative Travel; EM Najeeb, Chairman, AIR travel Enterprises; Suresh Nair, GM, Air Asia; Sanjay Kumar, COO, Indigo Airlines along with several experts, IATO office bearers, travel writers, tour operators and hospitality coordinators participated.
One of the major events “Run for Responsible Tourism” in the morning had attracted people concerned for tourism who covered 5 plus kilometers through fun walk and run showing solidarity to travel operators.