The Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) has been organizing Odisha Tourism Conclave since last three years and has been suggesting various promotional initiatives and action plans to the State Government for development of tourism of the State.

This year also HRAO is organizing the 4th edition of Odisha Tourism Conclave on 18th September 2019 under the theme “TOURISM TO BE THE DRIVING FORCE OF STATE ECONOMY”. 

Although Odisha has vast tourism potential we are yet to come at par with our neighbouring states and other states like Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi etc.  At this conclave we have invited experts from the field of travel trade, media, performing arts, bloggers, content writers, adventure sports, airlines, digital marketing and branding, food connoisseur, film makers, eco-tourism lovers, academicians, bureaucrats etc. along with Hon’ble MPs, Central Ministers & State Ministers to actively participate in the conclave and their expert comments / guidance will help in preparation of a master plan for tourism growth of the State.. 

This year we have invited Union Minister for State (Independent Charge) Hon’ble Sri Prahlad Singh Patel, Union Minister for Petroleum and Steel Hon’ble Sri Dharmendra Pradhan to highlight them on the tourism potential and needs suggestions for development of Odisha Tourism.  We have specially invited the President of the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India Capt. Swadesh Kumar, President, Association of Domestic tour Operators of India, Sri P P Khanna, President, India Golf Tourism Association, Sri Rajan Sehgal and one of the largest inbound tour operators of the country Sri Rajeev Kohli, Managing Director of Creative Travel, New Delhi.

His Excellency Governor of Odisha will inaugurate the Conclave in presence of Sri Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Tourism Minister, Govt. of Odisha, Secretary Tourism, Sports & YS, Govt. of Odisha Sri Vishal Dev, Union Minister for State (Independent Charge) Hon’ble Sri Prahlad Singh Patel and Union Minister for Petroleum and Steel Hon’ble Sri Dharmendra Pradhan at 10 am on 18th September 2019. Presentations on potential of Odisha Tourism will be made by ri. Vishal Kumar Dev, IAS,   Commissioner – cum – Secretary ,   Tourism Department – Department of Tourism, Odisha, Dr. Mona Sharma, IAS – Principal Secretary– F&E Dept., Govt. of Odisha and Smt. Shubha Sarma, IAS, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Handlooms, Textiles & Handicraft Department, Govt. of Odisha.

Hon’ble Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) Dr. Sasmit Patra has also given consent to Chair a Panel Discussion on Branding Odisha (Unique Selling Propositions (USP) & Unique Value Proposition (UVP).  The other panel discussions would be on (1) Globalizing Odisha’s Unique Heritage, Culture and Cuisine (2) Connecting Odisha Globally (3) Enhancing the role of Digital Media in Tourism Promotion (4) Augmenting Odisha’s Hospitality and Tourism sector.

The conclave would be an immense congregation to give a 360 degree boost to the growth of tourism sector in Odisha, attract investments in the tourism sector, the holistic approach to rediscover the potential issues relating to Tourism & Hospitality sector and to prepare a roadmap with specific recommendations from the stakeholders. 

During the last year’s Tourism Conclave, some of the major recommendations which were submitted to the Government and have been implemented by the State Tourism Department are revamping digital marketing strategies and optimization of Odisha Tourism website, promotion of Eco Tourism, conducting domestic roadshows in different states, cleanliness campaign at Puri, change of Odisha Tourism logo, Single Window Clearance for operation of tourism projects, special promotion campaigns at destination connected by Airlines to create awareness about tourist attractions in Odisha, development of tourists circuits other than Puri & Konark to give a boost to Odisha as a 21 night destination, allotment of land for hotel projects to attract investments to the State etc., etc.

I am happy to announce that the Government is taking the suggestions of the Conclave very positively and we are hopeful the government will take appropriate action on rest of the recommendations prepared and submitted during the 3rd Odisha Tourism Conclave such as preparation of a tourism master plan for the next 5 years, more International flight connectivity, infrastructure development at Samuka Beach, star category hotels at tourist destinations, development of Chilika lake as an International Water sports Hub, etc., and making Shamuka an international tourist HUB.  

Further, we steel have the lowest number of star category hotel rooms in Odisha, inspite of Biju Patnaik Airport being declared as an International Airport, we do not have many international air lines operating to and from Bhubaneswar, GST of 28% charged on rooms above Rs.7,500 fails India to compete in the international tourism market specially in South East Asia where the taxes are low and hotels are cheaper in places like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong etc.

We have also requested the Finance Ministry for inclusion of hotel in the Infrastructure Category under Section 80 a/A – 1/B of the Income Tax Act on par with other facilities like Airports, Bridges, Highways, Sanitation, Telecom Sector, Power Plants and as recently extended to the ‘Affordable Housing Sector’ in the Finance Bill 2017. We also have proposed establishment of a State Tourism Development Authority, quick allotment of land for hotel project, Tourism Policy 2020 should be prepared in consultation with the travel trade, rules relating to CRZ regulation should be relaxed etc.

The entire progremme starting from the Inauguration by His Excellency Governor of Odisha at 10 am till departure of Hon’ble Chief Minister at the Valedictory ceremony, will be live streaming on social media, like youtube, twitter, Face Book etc.  This can be linked with all websites of Government Tourism Department, all hoteliers, travel agents, tour operators, online portals, travel trade associations etc. 

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