You will be able to explore East India in a whole new way now as Odisha plans to introduce cruise tourism to revive the travel industry in the state post-Corona. By Amitha Ameen

 

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The Odisha government has announced its plans to introduce cruise tourism at select places. The state tourism board is collaborating with private sectors to develop these cruises and bring the plan to fruition.

According to reports, the water bodies that have so far been shortlisted include Chilika Lake, Bhitarkanika, Satkosia gorge, Hirakud, and Mahanadi. During the first phase of the plan at these destinations, the government will gauge the response of the tourists to this new initiative, as many people are still doubtful about stepping out of their homes during these times.

 

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Odisha tourism board is still in the process of looking for potential investors and cruise operators and hopes that the promotion of private-sector investments will, in turn, boost the state’s tourism.

“Tourism sector contributes around 10 per cent of the state’s GDP. After Fani, we had organised Konark retreat festivals near the Konark sea beach and received a good response. Now we plan to bring international cruise operators to the state to boost tourism. We have floated an expression of interest (EoI) for this purpose. We are in touch with three to four international cruise operators,” said Tourism secretary Vishal Kumar Dev to The Telegraph.

 

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But many environmentalists and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) have opposed the move citing the harmful impact that these cruises may have on the ecosystem of these areas. The protected areas are already fragile and facing many issues and “Chilika has a dwindling dolphin population, Bhitarkanika has the saltwater crocodiles and delicate mangroves. Satkosia Gorge comes within the project tiger area and crocodiles are diminishing in the count,” expressed Anil Dhir, the project coordinator of INTACH Odisha to The Telegraph.

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