Orissa’s rich cultural and religious heritage has resulted in cheerful moments for the state. The state tourism department of Odisha has bagged the coveted International Tourism Conclave & Travel award in the category of ‘Best Tourism Festival Destination’. The award ceremony took place at East Bourne Resorts & Spa in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

The innovative and cultural activities of Odisha have brought this recognition to the state. Commenting on this proud moment, Ashok Tripathi, Tourism and Culture Secretary, said “It’s indeed an achievement as no other State in the country has come up such a wide variety of festivals at regular intervals.”

Apart from its regular cultural & religious festivals, the tourism department has started some innovative festivals such as International Odissi Festival, International Sand Art Festival, International Surfing Festival and Samrachana Choreography Festival of Dance.

Adding to the aforementioned festivals, there was a Guinness World Record of Odissi dance and a unique jugalbandi contest of sand and chalk art organized by the state tourism board.

“All the festivals were conceived with an idea of highlighting the rich culture and heritage of the State. Besides, the Odisha Tourism has been innovative in its approach towards creation and styling of more such festivals to draw national and international visitors.

The first-of-its-kind ‘jugalbandi’ of sand and chalk art that was done by Sudarshan Patnaik and Tracy Stum was also an initiative in this direction,” said Manoranjan Pattnaik, General Manager, Odisha Tourism and Development Corporation.

Besides Odisha, other states which received the awards were Himachal, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir and international winners are China Tourism and Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.

In February, Odisha was declared the ‘best emerging destination’ at India’s Best Awards on the basis of its annual readership survey and with this victory it is clear that Odisha is fast emerging as a prominent tourist destination in India.