Fresh from the successful hosting of the Hockey World Cup 2018, the Odisha government has turned its focus on upgrading hotel infrastructure to host sports events of grand scale and boost international footfalls.
The state government is making incessant efforts to position Bhubaneswar as the country’s sports capital. Realising the lacuna posed by inadequate plush hotel rooms, the tourism department has set sights on roping in some of the sought-after names in luxury hotel space. Through the Men’s Hockey World Cup from November 28 to December 16, Bhubaneswar witnessed a euphoric atmosphere, drawing ardent hockey lovers which bolstered international footfalls. Tourism and hospitality sectors made collateral gains from the sporting event. One estimate from the travel industry source pegged the surge in the state’s inbound foreign tourist arrivals at around 5o per cent.
In the run up to the Hockey World Cup, the state government went for co-branding of sports and tourism. The idea was to showcase the city as a tourism centre of choice by leveraging the significant footfalls anticipated for the hockey spectacle.
“The feedback we got for hosting the Hockey World Cup is overwhelming. The visitors have been dazed by the arrangements. The only striking area where we could improve is the availability of swanky hotel properties as foreign guests are looking for brands of international import. We are engaging some of the titans in hotel industry like Taj, Hyatt and Marriot to build five-star properties in and around Bhubaneswar”, said an official source.
As of now, Odisha is dogged by scarcity of around 5000 high-quality rooms in star rated hotels.
"There is a need for about 5000 hotel rooms in the star category in the state. The new properties in the category of three to five star should come up, especially in Khurda district", said J K Mohanty, chairman, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO). Mohanty owns the Swosti Group that runs a chain of star hotels and resorts at strategic tourism hotspots.
According to a study, a three-fold increase in the number of hotel rooms in the state by 2025 will require a capital expenditure of Rs 14.5 billion through public-private participation.
"During 2013-14, the net flow of tourist spending has grown by 117 per cent, contributed majorly by domestic tourists (growth of 120 per cent), while the number of tourists has grown by only eight per cent. This implies increased length of stay, higher spending per tourist arrival and substantiates the demand for luxury and category hotel rooms in the state," noted a report prepared by KPMG jointly with the state-owned Industrial Promotion & Investment Corporation of Odisha Ltd (Ipicol).
Tourism is one of the six focus sectors identified by the Odisha government for attracting new investments.
"Considering an average of 5,000 tourists served per category hotel room, the number of category hotel rooms should be 5,000, an increase of close to 4,000 category rooms. In order to bring down the average hotel room occupancy rate to 60 per cent, the number of hotel beds has to be beefed up to 2,70,000 by 2025, a three-fold increase in the number of hotel beds", added the report on Odisha Industrial Development Plan 2025.