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Odisha government is soon going to announce a financial package for the covid-hit tourism sector of the state, Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, tourism minister of the state said on Saturday.

“The Chief Minister (Naveen Patnaik) is expected to soon announce a financial package for the tourism sector. The need is to work towards sustainable tourism, and we cannot have a situation where risk management is not taken care of," Panighrahi said while speaking at a virtual roundtable on ‘COVID-19: Impact on the State Tourism Sector’, organized by industry lobby FICCI.

Akshita M. Bhanj Deo, director of Belgadia Palace in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha on Friday rued on Twitter about lack of support from the state government to the tourism sector that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and consecutive cyclones. “What is the future of tourism in Odisha and do we have a space that is sustainable and can be scaled," she asked.

Vishal Kumar Dev, principal secretary in charge of tourism said that the government is aware of the concerns faced by the tourism and hospitality sector. “We are working on a detailed support package to be offered to the industry, which would include hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and self-employed people including photographers, guides etc," he added.

Highlighting the measures to promote Odisha tourism, Dev said that the state is looking at road shows, road trips from the neighbouring states and scaling up of eco-retreats to cover more destinations. “We have selected a partner that will help us in curating various itineraries and immersive experience packages to promote these packages," he added.

Dev said the state is now looking at tourism destinations in a holistic manner and is preparing master plan for each destination. “A priority destination list has been identified consisting of 70 circuits and the government will invest in a big way. Our infrastructure development budget for this year has been doubled," he added.

Odisha will also be investing in new tourism products especially cruises and houseboats. “We have selected India’s largest river cruise operator to start catamarans. By early next year we will have Odisha on the luxury river cruise map of the country," Dev added.

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