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Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has pitched for including Bhubaneswar in Air India's Varanasi-Colombo circuit. The step, Patnaik, feels would contribute to promoting Buddhist tourism and boost tourist footfalls.
In a letter to civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, he said, "In the recently held International Buddhist Conclave and other discussions in different forums, the tour operators, academicians and revered monks from Sri Lanka have expresses strong desire to come to Odisha to explore the Buddhist heritage sites. However, as there is no direct connectivity, Sri Lankan tourists find it difficult to visit Odisha."
Inclusion of Bhubanewar as a stop in the Varanasi-Colombo route can help meet this unmet demand.
He hailed Air India's flight from Varanasi to Colombo as a welcome development, saying it will be useful in promotion of heritage tourism and in increasing the traffic from Sri Lanka to India.
Separately, in a communication to the external affairs ministry, Patnaik has urged for including Bhubaneswar as a 'Visa on Arrival' station. The Odisha government is asking for this facility as AirAsia has started direct international flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Kuala Lumpur. Odisha has seen sizeable number of foreign tourist arrivals after this direct flight operations.