Bhubaneswar, August 13 (LocalWire): Despite the ban on foreign tourists at specific destinations, the idyllic and scenic spots in Odisha’s Koraput district continues to attract overseas guests with their footfall steadily rising during the past three years.
According to a senior official of the Koraput district administration, the number of international tourists visiting the hill-locked district has almost tripled during the last three years.
This is a positive development given the fact that there is a prohibition on the entry of foreigners in specific tribal areas and in Maoist-infested regions.
“The rise in the number of overseas tourists in the southern district has been impressive. While 1,806 foreign tourists visited in 2016 the number went up to 2,817 in the year 2017 and 4,926 in 2018.
The current year, till July, has also witnessed a steady flow of foreign tourists, while the overall number of foreign tourists grew by 272% in the past three years.
Thus, it was re-established as a major eco-tourism hunting ground for foreign tourists,” the official said.
“The footfall may rise further if the prohibition is relaxed to some of the adventure tourism spots. But the government prioritises the safety and security of international visitors.
That’s why the restriction on the movement of foreigners in vulnerable pockets is entirely justified. One has to keep in mind that two Italian tourists were abducted by suspected Maoists in Kandhamal district in 2013,” he stated.
The government was forced to clamp ban on foreign tourists’ visit to tribal pockets and Maoists belt in the district on 25 February 2012 and a gazette notification was issued in this regard.
The Maoists’ threat coupled with the controversy over the visitors clicking the tribal women attired in their semi-nude costume had forced the authorities to clamp ban on far-flung tourists’ destinations.
However, later it was relaxed on 2 March 2017 allowing access to the foreign tourists to some of the areas of the district.
However international tourists are still barred from gaining entry into Kantia, Kotia, Nuagaon, Sambai, Talagolleru (Seimiliguda block), Haladikuda, Majhiguda, Ramagiri (Baipariguda block), Bediguda, Chikanaput, Takarpada (Lamtaput block) and cluster six villages in Kerimuti gram panchayats under Kundura block. The restriction on a visit to these places is still in place due to the threat posed by Maoistsgroups, the official said.
These spots coming under the prohibition order are mostly Maoists-infested pockets and remote places inhabited by Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) villagers.
A diverse group of 62 Scheduled Tribe communities and 13 PVTGs live in the state including in Koraput district.
The unique lifestyle, culture, costumes besides the traditional art of tribal people attracts foreign tourists to this part of the state.
The trekking, adventure sports along the hilly terrain are also added attractions for international guests.
The district nested along the gigantic hills, waterfalls, dense green cover and wildlife is widely regarded as tourism treasure trove.
The Deomali, the 1,672-metre mountain peak, Bagra and Duduma (Machhkund) waterfalls besides several other ideal tourism locations draw a large number of domestic and international tourists to Koraput every year.
The winter months spanning from October to January are considered ideal to pay a visit to this part of the state.