Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 26:
With increase in number of foreign arrivals in Odisha after international connectivity with Air Asia, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj urging her to include Bhubaneswar as a “Visa on Arrival” Station.
Mentioning that the state government has established international connectivity recently with Air Asia starting its operations between Bhubaneswar and Kuala Lumpur, Patnaik wrote: “There has been a good response to this international connectivity with Indian citizens travelling abroad through Bhubaneswar. A sizeable number of foreign arrivals have also been noticed.”
“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 the eligible Nations as it would encourage people from countries connected by the recently launched international connectivity and boost tourist footfalls to our State,” he wrote.
In a separate letter to Civil Aviation Minister A. Gajapathi 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.