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BHUBANESWAR

Agencies managing govt’s eco-retreats get 24 crore grant | Bhubaneswar News

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BHUBANESWAR: The government has sanctioned Rs 23.96 crore as viability gap funding (VGF) for agencies engaged in management of eco-retreats, the glamping festival organized by Odisha Tourism.
The funding is a one-time grant provided to support a project/programme which is economically justified but not financially viable.
In a reply to the assembly on Thursday, tourism minister Jyoti Panigrahi said the glamping festival was organized at five different locations — Konark, Bhitarkanika, Hirakud, Satkosia and Daringbadi — during the current financial year. The eco-retreats started on December 9 and culminated on February 28 in four locations barring Konark, where it continued till March 8.
“The key objective of the festival was development of ecology-based tourism and its publicity. The government did not intend to make it a business-oriented event. The profit or loss is being borne by the agencies engaged in managing the camps in different locations,” Panigrahi said. The amount received by the agencies under the viability gap funding include Rs 13.22 crore for Konark, Rs 2.75 crore (Hirakud), Rs 2.72 crore (Satkosia), Rs 2.20 crore (Bhitarkanika) and Rs 3.07 crore (Daringbadi). The minister did not mention name of the agencies engaged to manage the camps.
While the camp at Konark drew maximum 5,512 tourists, Panigrahi said Satkosia camp had attracted 2,088 visitors. Similarly, number of tourists visiting other camps include 1,924 to Daringbadi, 1,610 to Hirakud and 1,414 to Bhitarkanika.
To attract tourists, events like boating, water sports, yoga, cycling, nature walk and cultural programmes are being organized.
Even as fire broke out at Satkosia Eco-Retreat camp, the tourism minister said the government had not faced any loss because of it as it was managed by an agency. He said steps are also being taken for the safety of visitors to the camp.
Sources said the state government may hold the eco-retreats in more locations in the coming years.
In a separate reply, the tourism minister said the sector was terribly affected due to Covid-induced lockdown in the country. After the unlock process started, the state government had organized training programme for hotel and restaurant associations and tour and travel personnel.

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