Nandita Das will be the brand ambassador of Orissa Tourism, according to Mr Surjya Narayan Patro, Orissa's Tourism Minister.
"Ms Das will showcase Orissa as the destination for tourists through the slogan, "Come Home to Orissa," Mr Patro told Business Line here on Friday. "Mudra, the reputed advertising agency, is now busy giving final touches to the campaign to be launched with participation of Ms Das", he said.
The appointment of the brand ambassador, as the Minister explained, was only one component of the multi-pronged strategy finalised by the Orissa Government to promote State's tourism, the other components being organising road shows both within the country and outside, appointing consultants and experts in the field to decide on the right strategy and improving infrastructure.
Thus, the Orissa Government would hold its first road show in Bangkok, first such event outside the country, on August 25 and would participate in World Travel Mart in London in November. In addition, there would be road shows in major cities within the country to attract tourists to the state.
In addition to Mudra, the State Tourism Department, according to him, has empanelled Leo Burnett and Rediffusion to promote the State among tourists, existing and prospective.
"These days, one needs professional approach to handle everything and tourism is no exception", he said pointing out the success achieved by other states such as Kerala, Rajasthan, Goa, even newly-created states such as Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal by involving professionals to show case their respective tourism potentials was an eye-opener to Orissa. PricewaterhouseCoopers too had been asked to submit a report in this regard, he added.
As for infrastructure development, the Minister said the emphasis was on improving the connectivity.
"In past two years we've spent nearly Rs 80 crore to improve the roads in various tourist centres and propose to spend about Rs 100 crore in the current fiscal," he said.
A part of the fund provided by the Centre for road development was being used to improve connectivity in various places of tourist attraction.
Part of the infrastructure development, as it was pointed, would also be through private-public partnership.
Thus, land was being offered by the State government to set up hotels by private entrepreneurs.
For example, an MoU had been signed with Lakshmi Franklin Group promoted by an NRI keen to set up hotels in Konarak, Puri and Paradip.
Mr S.K. Sarangi, Director of Tourism, Government of Orissa, said special emphasis was being laid to promote Dhauli, Udaygiri, Lalitgiri, Khandagiri and other places of interest to Buddhists.
A sum of Rs 8.5 crore would be spent for the development of all these locations (except Dhauli).
For Dhaluli, there would be an additional allocation of Rs 4.5 crore and the services of the Baroda-based architect, Mr Karan Grover, were being requisitioned.
The sea beach in Puri too was being beautified at a cost of Rs 5 crore and the promenade was being extended by about 1.5 kms.
Later, the Orissa Tourism Minister inaugurated here "Splendours of the East", an exhibition to showcase the tourism potentials of the eastern states (except Jharkhand and Bihar) organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry. There were 25 participants, also including travel agents and others.
Mr Navin Suchanti, Chairman of the Tourism sub-committee of the chamber, emphasised the need for joint branding of the eastern states in matter of promotion of tourism.