Odisha plans river cruises to promote tourism sector

The Odisha government is planning to start river cruises on select water bodies under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode to give a boost to the tourism sector, said an official on Thursday.

Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy on Thursday directed the tourism department to start river cruises in the state.

He gave this direction while exploring the possibilities of innovative tourism activities at a high-level virtual meeting with experts and stakeholders on digital mode.

“River cruising itself is compatible with Covid-19 restrictions. There is a huge scope and latent market for world class river cruising in Odisha. It can also be connected with many eco-spots and refill the economic activities in the sector,” said the chief secretary.

Tourism secretary Vishal Kumar Dev said that three principal river cruise circuits can be developed on the Mahanadi river, Chilika Lake and Dangmala reserve forest including the national waterway-5 from Dhamara to Paradeep.

Bhitarkanika circuit can connect the spots like Chandbali-Aradi-Dhamara-Khola and other spots in Bhitarkanika.

Chilika circuit can connect Chilika, Kalijai-Nalabana-Honeymoon island-Mangalajodi-Satapada-Rajhans island-Satapada and Puri.

The meeting deliberated on organising this activity through PPP mode.

The issues relating to various regulatory permissions, compliance with pollution norms, river jetties, and bar licences, among others, were discussed in the meeting.

The state PPP cell was advised to work out the details in consultation with department of tourism and Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC).

The chief secretary also asked tourism department to coordinate with Inland Waterways Authority regarding statutory requirements.