An unclean beach, the damaged Marine Drive and overflowing drains of seaside hotels cut a sorry picture of tourism hub Puri. Although the city is known for its tourism potential, none of the candidates for the Puri constituencies have made it an issue during campaigning.
Marine Drive was damaged by sea erosion in 2007, and a portion of it still lies in a state of disrepair. This town, which is the home of minister Maheswar Mohanty (who is seeking re-election from the Puri assembly constituency on a BJD ticket), has immense potential as a tourism hub. But the candidates seem unconcerned.
Stakeholders associated with the hospitality industry, wondered why opposition candidates were silent on the issue of tourism, which has given Puri a distinct identity and generated employment for local youths. While more than 92 lakh visitors, including 66,500 foreign tourists, visited Odisha in 2012-13, 80% of them visited Puri.
“Candidates are raising universal issues like law and order, poor road connectivity, inadequate drinking water supply and bad electricity. There is no doubt that these issues need to be addressed. But candidates seem to be forgetting the issue of tourism, which is the identity of Puri,” said Rajkishore Patra, general secretary of Hotel Association of Puri. “Nobody is talking about how to develop tourism or what should have been done in the past,” Patra said.
“Puri is the only location in eastern India where one can find such a sprawling beach. We have nothing else to attract foreign tourists. Sea erosion is a major issue. Barring some patches of the beach, long stretches are used for open defecation by slum dwellers. It is unsafe to stroll on the beach after sundown because of poor illumination,” said Srimanta Kumar Dash, president of India Japan Friendship Centre, an organization working towards promoting the tourism link between the two countries
Read the full report here, Times of India