Odisha govt hopes to boost tourism with launch of direct flights from Bhubaneswar to Bangkok, Singapore

Singapore: With the launch of direct flights connecting Bhubaneswar to Dubai, Bangkok and Singapore under the “Viability Gap Funding” scheme, the Odisha government is hopeful of doubling its foreign tourist arrivals in the state by 2025 from its pre-pandemic levels, a tourism official said on Monday.

A “Viability Gap Funding” (VGF) is a government grant provided to airlines to bridge the gap between the cost of operations and expected revenues.

“The target is to double the foreign tourist arrivals by 2025 to 2.5 lakh from the pre-Covid peak of 1.2 lakh witnessed in 2019,” Sachin Jadhav, Director of Tourism Odisha, said.

The Odisha government has allocated Rs 660 crore in its budget for the current financial year for the tourism sector.

“With the launch of direct flights with these three cities, we expect a surge in international tourists taking onward flights to Odisha,” Jadhav said during the Odisha Tourism Roadshow here.

“We have shown a more proactive approach in starting direct flights to Bhubaneswar to Dubai, which began on May 15, and Bangkok and Singapore on Jun 3,” he said.

Connecting Bhubaneswar to these three destinations will not only boost tourism but also bolster trade links, he said.

Jadhav expects a 10-15 per cent average increase in annual tourist arrivals with a compound average annual growth of 25 per cent by 2025.

He reckons that the Odia diaspora will act as ambassadors in promoting Odisha as a premier tourism destination.

In December 2022, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved Indigo Airlines’ bid to operate flights from Bhubaneswar to Dubai, Singapore and Bangkok.