JP Panigrahi: Tourism Minister
J P Panigrahi, Odisha’s latest tourism minister is a man endowed with a mission and vision. For him, tourism is not another adjunct department; it is in the crux of the government’s scheme of things. In barely a month of his taking oath as minister in Naveen Patnaik’s fifth straight term, Panigrahi has amply demonstrated what it takes to exploit and hardsell Odisha’s rich, incomparable bouquet of tourism products. The state with its tapestry of art, culture and heritage offers a profusion of options to tourists of all hues and tastes.
The minister recently led a delegation to hold the Odisha Tourism roadshow in Mumbai. The roadshow witnessed the participation of over 150 tour and travel operators from the city, who conducted rapid B2B networking with 18 leading tour operators from Odisha, who were part of the delegation.Panigrahi hailed the government’s resolve and success at leading the state’s recovery from Super Cyclone Fani’s devastating impact. He said, “I take great pride in announcing that Odisha will be celebrating the colourful Jagannath Rathyatra from 4 to 12 July, just 2 months after the cyclone ravaged Puri. It is with this very dedication under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that we call upon you to collaborate with us in our endeavour to give the best of India’s best kept secret to India and the world.”
Odisha, which witnessed 1.5 crore tourist footfalls in 2018, hopes to see the numbers rise to over 2.5 crore in 2021. The state boasts some exciting tourist circuits including diverse wildlife tours across 18 protected areas and two national parks, an enigmatic Buddhist circuit, apart from the spiritually exhilarating Golden Triangle Heritage Circuit of Bhubaneswar – Puri – Konark.
Beyond Odisha’s Golden Triangle that draws tourists in droves, the minister is keen to develop the underexplored sites around Balasore. The minister paid his obeisance at the Panchalingeshwar temple in Balasore’s Nilgiri block and felt promoting tourism in such areas will spawn employment opportunities for the locals besides enriching the state coffers.
Later, the Tourism Minister visited the Udaypur-Talasari sea beach in Bhograi block of Balasore district and held a meeting with Balasore Collector Ramesh Chandra Rout, former Higher Education Minster and Bhograi MLA Ananta Das and others. The Minister said the State Government is taking necessary steps to ensure all-round development of the sea beach.
Panigrahi said Udaypur-Talasari has immense potential to attract tourists. The work to develop the site will be done in a systematic manner through funds sanctioned in the annual budget. Das raised the issues pertaining to development of Udaypur-Kirtania marine drive, lighting facility at Talasari marine area, development of Chandaneswar and Bhusandeswar shrines, hanging bridge at Talasari and a deer park. He said these projects are yet to start despite approval by the State Government.