GANDHINAGAR, WNS: The Odisha government has decided to identify more locations for nature and eco-tourism as the eco-retreat sites set up in the state have become quite popular with tourists, an official said.
This was decided at a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra, who directed the departments of tourism, forest and environment and water resources to identify more locations for enhancing nature tourism activities in the state, the official said.
The chief secretary asked the district collectors to identify locations for setting up year-round eco-retreat sites, nature camps, day destinations, river cruise, boating, jungle safari, wildlife sighting towers and other such activities.
"Selection of the appropriate site for nature tourism is very crucial for taking it to the next level," Mohapatra said and assigned Tourism secretary V K Dev and Chairman and Managing Director IDCO SK Singh to verify the identified locations and evaluate their potential for development to year-round tourist destinations.
Nature tourism is no more an international tourist activity, the chief secretary said, adding that now more domestic tourists are visiting the nature camps in Odisha.
Eco-locations, nature sites and nature camps will generate more employment opportunities for local populace and will help enhance their income, he said.
The proposals regarding scaling up such activities at Talasari, Konark, Satpada, Chandipur, Debrigarh, Bhitarkanita, Similipal, Daringibadi, Astarang, Satkosia gorge, Tikarpada, Hirakud, Chilika and Nalabana were discussed in the meeting.
The chief secretary also directed authorities to demarcate tourism zones in forest areas, list out the dams, river stretches and water bodies having good potential for boating, water boats, cruises and placement of houseboats.
While the District Collectors will identify suitable locations near major tourist destinations for development of tourist stay, it has been decided that the diesel motorboats engaged in tourist sites to be converted to CNG mode.
Additional Chief Secretary Forest and Environment Dr Mona Sharma suggested to start nature camps in 30 to 40 new locations during the year. It was also decided to invite more private sector investment for making the nature tourism activity more competitive and employment generating.