Hockey fever has gripped Bhubaneswar city and the nation at large as 16 hockey playing nations will lock horns for World Cup glory starting November 28. The fever has reached the nook and corner of the country through 'My Heart Beats for Hockey 'campaign'.
Not just matches, the global event will witness a star-studded opening ceremony with Bollywood icons Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit and music maestro AR Rahman set to rock the stage. The opening ceremoby will start at 5:30 pm on Tuesday evening.
Elaborate security arrangement has been made to avoid untoward incidents. Tickets for the opening ceremony and India matches have been sold out.
The anticipation and excitement is palpable among hockey aficionados in the country and across the globe and Odisha government is also leaving no stones unturned to use the opportunity to boost tourist footfall in the state.
The 14th edition of the mega event will witness 36 matches between 28 November and 16 December with World No 1 Australia as defending champions. The opening match of the tournament will see World No 3 Belgium taking on World No 11 Canada on November 28, 2018, while host nation India will open their campaign on the same day against South Africa.
No doubt, Indian national team will be the favourites among the formidable opponents in front of its home crowd.
The state has spent Rs 820 million to give build new infrastructure and mount branding and publicity campaigns in the run-up to the event.
“Sports and tourism go hand in hand”, maintains Vishal Dev, secretary of Sports & Youth Services Department as well as of the Tourism department of Government Odisha.
Dev successfully rose to the challenge of getting Kalinga stadium ready in just 90 days for 22nd Asian Athletics Championships (AAC) last year, in which 45 nations participated. Post AAC, Odisha’s appetite has grown for holding of international sports events.
A lion’s share of the expenditure, about Rs 350 million, has been spent on setting up new infrastructure while Rs 250 million has been paid to Federation Internationale de Hockey (commonly known as FIH) as hosting fees.
The rest has been spent on the provision of hospitality, transport and campaigns and branding activity.
In addition to the domestic guests, Odisha expects a footfall of 10,000 to 15,000 foreign tourist during the tournament, similar numbers the Netherlands witnessed when it hosted the tournament's 13th edition back in 2014.
The state government is working tirelessly to ensure spectators from around the globe have the best experience of the men’s event.
Tiding over the shortage of hotel rooms, the state government has entered into a pact with OYO Rooms for addition of 1000 rooms.
Foreign tourists are expected to offer a minimum revenue of Rs 150 million ( 10000 footfalls x 3 days x Rs 5000 expenditure per day) during their stay in the state.
Odisha’s mettle for being a perfect host will bear fruits only when India emerges as the numero uno at the tournament.