Industry veteran, Jitender. K. Mohanty, Chairman & Managing Director, Swosti Group has been engaged in promoting Odisha as a tourist destination since 1981. He believes that Odisha has the opportunity to realize its true potential at a time when domestic tourism has come in the forefront.
“Presently, tourist arrivals in Odisha are very low. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions for international travel, thus, offering a unique opportunity to boost domestic tourism markets. Odisha can become the number one tourist destination in India as we have rich potential in terms of beaches, lakes, mountains, tribes, architecture, heritage and ecotourism,” said Mohanty.
The Chairman of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) highlighted the fact that the state lacks an adequate number of good hotels. Investors have been shying away from the hospitality market because of its highly capital-intensive nature and low-profit margins compared to the other sectors.
“With such a big existing domestic market, the government must come forward to invest in the tourism infrastructure throughout the country. The state governments should extend attractive incentives for private investors to develop tourism infrastructure including hotels and resorts,” added Mohanty.
As per statistics available with India’s Ministry of Tourism, there are 8,600 hotel rooms in Odisha – a modest figure when compared to other Indian states like Gujarat (94,6884 keys) and Haryana (41, 4763 keys).
“The government of Odisha must realize our potential and our drawbacks. There is an immediate need of good star category classified hotels in tourist attractions like Bhubaneswar and Puri. Around 5,000 additional number of hotel rooms in different star category are required in the market in order to compete with the hotel infrastructure of the other India states,” stressed Mohanty.
In order to spruce up the hospitality sector of the state, he also requested the government to allow 30 percent capital investment subsidy up to a maximum limit of Rs.25 crores and 5 percent interest subsidy up to 11 years on repayment of term loans. “If the subsidy is even given only for three years many hotels will come up as required,” he further said.
Hospitality and the tourism sectors have been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic world over. As per Mohanty, it will take at least a year for businesses to get back to full-fledged operations.
“Countries have blocked entry to foreigners, airlines have shut down, hotels have lost huge revenue, employees have also lost jobs and taken pay cuts. Travel agents and tour operators have suffered losses too. So, it will take a lot of time for the industry to swing back into action,” said Mohanty.
Besides Hotel Swosti Premium, Swosti Grand and Gopalpur Palm Resort, the new venture of Swosti Group “Swosti Chilika Resort”, situated in one of the most pristine locations in the country on the banks of the largest lake in the northern hemisphere (Chilika Lake) has become one of the most preferred eco/bird lover’s destination within a short span of time.
“It has been widely acclaimed across the globe and has become a major tourist destination of the state. Many domestic and foreign tourists who have visited the property have highly appreciated the resort and its top-class hospitality. The resort has been built to cater to high-end domestic and international tourists,” said Mohanty.
Chilika lake attracts a large number of migratory birds from Siberian countries during the winter season and throughout the year the Irrawaddy Dolphins are an attraction for the tourists. Swosti Group is now ready to expand its hospitality business by putting up world-class luxury beach resorts at Puri and Gopalpur.