Bhubaneswar, October 26: Bhubaneswar gets its first daily international flight as Air Asia starts flights from the state capital to Kuala Lumpur every day from Thursday onwards. The decision to start the daily flights came due to the rise in number of air travellers to both the cities.
However, the decision is receiving mixed response from tour operators. According to many of them, daily flights might not be too beneficial. Tour operator Saroj Samal told MCL, "I don't think starting a daily flight from Bhubaneswar to Kuala Lumpur is a good decision. A few days back, I came back from Kuala Lumpur and surprisingly there were barely 50 people on the flight. If the flight in a gap of four days leaves unreserved seats, I have my doubts that the daily flights will have empty seats which might ultimately lead to the closing down of the flight service."
"It would have been much better if the authorities had worked towards adding flight service to Bangkok too on rotation basis with Kuala Lumpur. That way, the travellers could have had more options,” he added.
Tour operator Yugabrata Kar has another point to make. "The daily flights might be welcomed by those from Odisha who love to visit Malaysia. But we don't see any benefit for Odisha tourism. Mostly Indian people are visiting Malaysia but Malaysian tourists are not coming to our state in that proportion, so I guess only Malaysian tourism is going to benefit from this initiative."
Kar further suggested that Odisha tourism needs to conduct regular road shows to attract tourists from Malaysia. "I feel that to attract tourists from Malaysian side, we need to conduct more road shows and spread awareness about places to visit in Odisha and we need to provide facilities to Malaysian tourists also. I have seen so many advertisements of Rajasthan Tourism and other North Indian states but there isn’t a single advertisement of Odisha tourism. Odisha Government should do proper marketing of its destinations to attract more foreign tourists," he added.
Kar further said, "One good thing about the daily flights, however, is that our people will get easy exposure to foreign countries which would help them see and understand their tourism policy and facilities." According to Kar, it is time to analyse the reason for less foreign tourists’ inflow to the state. "It is necessary to analyze why Malaysian and other South-East Asian tourists are not interested to visit Odisha."
Elaborating on the need to start the daily flights, Bhubaneswar Airport Director Suresh Chandra Hota told MCL, "There used to be a lot of rush during the weekly flights and most of the time people had to wait for one week to plan their trip. The daily flights would benefit everyone as the number of incoming and outgoing tourists would increase."
"Due to rise in the number of air travellers to the state, several other airlines have also shown their interest to start flight operations from Bhubaneswar to Middle-Eastern countries. So, I feel it’s a good sign that the number of international flights from Bhubaneswar airport is increasing and hopefully it will continue to rise in future as well,” he added.