Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday requested the union government to provide Visa on Arrival facility and a halt here for Air India’s Colombo-Varanasi flight to increase the tourist footfall in the state.
The Chief Minister wrote separate letters to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Civil Aviation Minister A. Gajapathi Raju in this regard.
Highlighting that Odisha has established international connectivity with Air Asia, that started its operations between Bhubaneswar and Kuala Lumpur, Patnaik said it has received good response from the Indian citizens travelling abroad through Bhubaneswar.
A sizeable number of foreign arrivals have also been noticed, he added.
“In order to facilitate the travel of arriving tourists, it is requested that Bhubaneswar be included as a Visa on Arrival station for citizens of eligible nations,” Patnaik said in a letter to Swaraj.
In a separate letter to Raju, the Chief Minister said Bhubaneswar may be included as a stop for the Colombo-Varanasi flight.
He said the just launched Air India flight from Colombo to Varanasi, would be useful in promotion of heritage tourism and in increasing the traffic from Sri Lanka into India.
“Odisha is a land of rich cultural heritage. Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism and spread the message across the world from Odisha.
“Apart from that, the diamond triangle of Buddhist sites has conclusively established that Odisha was an important centre of Buddhism during 3 BC,” said Patnaik.
He also said that in the just concluded International Buddhist conclave and other discussions at different forums, the tour operators, academicians and revered monks from Sri Lanka have expressed strong desire to come to Odisha to explore Buddhist sites.
“However, as there is no direct air connectivity, Sri Lankan tourist find it difficult to visit Odisha,” he said.
“In order to meet this strong, unmet demand, I would request that Bhubaneswar may be included as a stop for the Colombo-Varanasi flight. This will help in increasing the tourist footfall for both Odisha and Varanasi,” the Chief Minister said.