There is a sharp decline in the number of Indian and foreign tourists visiting the famous Konark Sun Temple in Puri.
According to a report by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), responsible for the upkeep of the protected monuments in India, there has been a steep decline in total domestic as well as international tourist footfall in last one year.
Around 6,443 foreign tourists visited the sun temple during the year 2017-2018. But only 5,477 paid their visits to the site in 2018-19. Similarly, the domestic tourists visiting the site also saw a downfall.
While a total of 28,46,092 domestic travellers visited in 2017-2018, this year saw a downfall of 3,84,733 with only 24,61,359 people visiting the UNESCO world heritage site.
The prime reason for the decline is said to be lack of accommodation options in the vicinity and infrastructure loopholes.
“The dip in numbers happened for a very brief time when cyclone Fani battered Konark. It took almost a month for tourism here to limp back to normalcy,” said Sunil Patnaik, assistant director, Odisha tourism department.
Cyclone Fani which hit the coastal town of Odisha, ravaged Konark too on May 3. Only after 26 days when electricity supply was restored in the area including the Sun temple, visitors started flowing in.
In a bid to aggressively promote tourism to draw foreign tourists, Odisha government has decided to organise a Marine Drive Eco Retreat festival near Konark for a month from December 14 to January 14 in which various facilities including cultural programme, food festival, 3D mapping, adventure sports and water sports will be provided for tourists.
Odisha is home to several landmarks of history and tourism like the 12th century Puri Jagannath temple, the sun temple, the entire stretch of marine drive from Chandrabhaga to the outskirts of Puri boast exemplary greenery and wildlife sanctuary.
Despite being home to such monuments both Jagannath and sun temple were left out of the list of 17 iconic tourist sites announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her maiden budget.
With measures like pitching up 50 luxury tents along Chandrabhaga beach side to convert Konark from a one day visit site to a destination of longer stay and sprucing up the monument with its light and sound show, looks like the state is leaving no stone unturned to revive the heritage site from the damage caused due to Fani’s wrath.