Beaches and ‘tribal tourism’ draw Russian tourists to Odisha
Bhubaneswar: In the wake of the mysterious deaths of Russian tourists in Odisha, a question has arisen why the foreign tourists are visiting the state even though it is not on the international tourism map.
According to local tour operators, foreign tourists including Russians visit Odisha to see the Kalinga architecture in the golden triangle — Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark.
A visit to the eastern triangle makes the tourists explore the affluent cultural heritage, famous temples, natural wonders, beaches and much more. The vibrant markets of Bhubaneswar and Puri are another attraction.
Many of the tourists also visit Odisha to explore the ancient Buddhist sites like Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Khandagiri. The foreign tourists, who have spent their entire life in concrete jungles, also show interest in visiting wildlife sanctuaries in Odisha like Bhitarkanika, Similipal and Satkosia.
Some of the foreigners, including those from Russia and Italy, come to Odisha to enjoy the beaches at Puri and Gopalpur and explore tribal or rural tourism, said Benjamin Simon, a leading tour operator of Odisha.
The foreigners, those who came to Odisha for a break from the hectic concrete jungle life, want to spend some time in the rural areas and tribal pockets. Such tourists usually visit Rayagada, Kandhamal and Koraput, he said.
Such tourists love to spend time in the tribal areas to witness their lifestyle, art, culture, handicrafts and handlooms, said the tour operator.
“There was a time when Russian tourists frequently visited Odisha. They came to Odisha directly through charter planes. Most of them want to spend time on the beaches. But now very few Russians come to Odisha,” Benjamin said.
The Odisha government has imposed a ban on the visits of foreign nationals to Bonda Ghat which is home to the primitive Bonda tribe and is also a Maoist-infested area.
The state government had prohibited the entry of foreign nationals to the Maoist-prone areas of the state after two Italians — Paolo Bosusco (who ran an adventure holiday firm in the state) and Claudio Colangelo (a doctor from Rome) — were abducted by Maoists in March, 2012 in Kandhamal district and were kept as hostages. The ultras later released the duo.
Following this incident, the state government made it mandatory for international tourists to seek the administration’s permission before going to Maoist-prone areas and only use tourist guides approved by the state government.