Report by Akshya Rout; Jajpur: The floods ravaging the district of Jajpur has taken a toll on local tourism and are likely to weigh on the already struggling tourism industry as it grapples with a rising of violence by Maoists in tribal areas of the state.
"These floods will severely affecting tourism in the famous Buddhist sites of Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri, , Langudi, Udaygiri and Kaima areas in Jajpur district in Jajpur district if the authority will not repair the damaged roads within first week of October . Large numbers of tourists particularly overseas tourists prefer to visit these places from October to February", said Sanghamitra Jena a noted tour operator of Eastern Treasure India Tour.
"The floods that have devastated large areas of Jajpur areas have left a serious mark on many of our state's key industries, including the tourism industry," She said.
"Talking with tourism operators on the ground revealed that even those not directly impacted by the floods are doing it tough with concerns that many interstate and international tourists are thinking about turning away because of the exaggerated flooding reports in media particularly electronic media", said Jena.
"The floodwaters deterred many visitors to visit the famous Buddhist site at Ratnakiri under Bari block the worst flood-affected area of the district. The main road near Ratnagiri is flooded with four feet water", said Pranab Kumar Mohanty of Ratnagiri.
Bijaya Kumar Mohanty the district tourism office said " The authority will repair all the roads at the Buddhist sites within a week after receding of the flood water. The tourism sector will not be affected this year".
"There are already signs that people are having doubts about visiting Buddhist sites in Puja holiday due to flood", said Sanghamitra Jena.
She said: "People have seen pictures of the terrible conditions in flood affected Jajpur district and have got the impression that the whole of the area is under water".
"Even people in other countries have been contacting us, worried about their holidays. They don't seem to realise that the problem is very localised and the rest of the district is fine", she added.
The flood in the district comes at the time when tourists were expected to flock to the Buddhist sites .The economy of many nearby villages within Buddhist sites is dependent on tourism and the floods have reportedly deterred most of the state's Buddhist sites that attracts thousands of visitors.
"The flood has caused colossal losses to Orissa tourism. At a time when we were looking for heavy inflow of tourists, the flood has just washed away our expectations," she added.
"The growing Maoist menace in Orissa' s tribal dominated districts of Koraput, Kalahandi, Rayagada , Keonjhar ,Malkangiri and other areas has not only claimed lives of people, it has dealt a big blow to the tourism particularly tribal tourism and the recent devastated flood has added woes of us" , said Arun Nayak the general secretary of Orissa Tour Guides Association.