Charles Worth, an Australian visitor in Odisha hopes his countrymen will have Bhubaneswar as a must visit city in their tour itinerary.
“It’s (Bhubaneswar) open, colorful and lively”, observes Worth as he checks into a mall in the city. Worth is among tens of thousands of inbound foreign tourists drawn to Bhubaneswar to witness the marquee sports event- Men's Hockey World Cup 2018.
Bhubaneswar, striving to position as the country's sports capital, is playing host to the 14th edition of Men’s World Cup Hockey. Sixteen teams are vying for the coveted title.
Foreign tourists have turned out in droves in Bhubaneswar which dons a bridal look with spruced up roads leading to the swanky Kalinga Stadium hosting the World Cup.
“This year (in the peak season), the arrivals of foreign tourists has surged by about 50 per cent, beating the traditional year-on-year (y-o-y) growth of 10-15 per cent due to the ongoing Hockey World Cup. This season, the growth has been exceptional. All the rooms have been sold out in Bhubaneswar and Puri”, said Benjamine Simon, a senior tour operator in the state.
“We are re-routing the guests as hotel rooms in Bhubaneswar-Puri-Konark route are packed. They are being accommodated at locations like Chilka and Dhenkanal”, he added.
Aside from domestic guests, Odisha expects a footfall of 10,000-15,000 foreign tourists during the tournament- a figure comparable to Netherlands when it hosted the tournament's 13th edition back in 2014.
Foreign tourists are expected to bring in a minimum revenue of Rs 150 million. The figure has been extrapolated assuming an average expenditure of Rs 5,000 per day by 10,000 visitors in a span of three days.
Hockey World Cup coinciding with Odisha's peak tourism season has translated into multiplier gains for online travel agencies too. They have logged record spike in booking enquiries for flights and hotels.
“People across age groups are travelling and accommodation in and around the area are getting full. We have seen a jump of almost 32 per cent in hotel bookings and expect to have some last minute bookings now that the final schedule is published,” Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer at Yatra.com.
The online travel company has also seen 17 per cent hike in flight booking over the last two months.
In the run up to the Hockey World Cup, the Odisha government dovetailed tourism promotion campaign with its publicity blitz for the event. By co-branding tourism and sports at global venues like London, the state sought to leverage the significant footfalls anticipated for the hockey spectacle.