Odisha to start river cruises on board luxury houseboat ‘Garuda’

The Odisha government is gearing up to commence river cruises in a bid to revamp the tourism industry, which has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Mohammad Safflan for India Today. The Odisha Tourism Department is all set to launch a luxury houseboat, Garuda, one- of-its-kind, for commercial operations in the Chilika lake.

The visitors will have a five-star experience on the floating cruise, and besides this, the tour packages shall be curated for tourists and shall cover Bhitarkanika National Park and adjoining areas of Gahirmatha Wildlife Sanctuary.
The packages will consist of an overnight stay along with full board meals, activities and cruising covering different islands in Chilika.

On the luxury houseboat ‘Garuda’, there will be two floors housing two suite rooms and four premium rooms, a bar and a restaurant. An open air lobby in the upper deck will also be built for meetings and conferences and an investment of INR 3 crore has been made.

The houseboat has been indigenously designed, developed and manufactured in Barkul, Odisha. The project has been approved by Odisha Tourism through a single window mechanism.

On May 15, Sachin Jadhav, Director-Tourism, Odisha gave a detailed presentation on the state’s strategic advantages for cruise tourism in the panel discussion on ‘Cruise Tourism: Success stories and Destination Development’.
He listed the steps taken by the Odisha government to develop and promote Cruise Tourism, its latest initiatives and various benefits which the government offers to investors and tour operators towards the growth and development of cruise tourism in the state.

Notably, in order to encourage private sector investments in the area, under Odisha Tourism Policy 2016, attractive incentives both fiscal and non-fiscal are being offered.

In the ongoing integrated master planning initiatives for destinations like Chilika, Bhitarkanika, Hirakud, Chandrabhaga and Satkosia, the government is giving special emphasis to develop support infrastructure for river cruises like jetties, passenger terminals, amenities like restaurants, toilets, parking, etc.

For the seamless cruise movement, the Department of Tourism is engaging with other line departments like Water Resources, Forests & Environment, for route demarcation, dredging, etc. (Source: India Today)

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