Three dimensional (3D) artworks, professional story-telling events, sport memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and Men’s Hockey World Cup (HWC) — the Odisha government has introduced a host of programmes to boost tourism by rebranding its state capital, Bhubaneswar, as India’s most youth-friendly destination.
“Jaipur is known for its literature festivals, while Goa is known for film festivals. The mandate is to make Bhubaneswar the country’s most child-friendly destination,” said Sujit Mohapatra of Bakul Foundation, a non-profit organisation working with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) to rebrand the capital through 3D art and professional story-telling events.
Bhubaneswar Municipal Commissioner Dr Krishna Kumar said the state government’s aim to create a child-friendly public space also involves “sensitising children to art and culture, something that has been Bhubaneswar’s heritage — seen in our temples and crafts”.
The BMC has already launched a Street Art and Murals Project (STAMP) and roped in some of the most famous 3D artists in the world, including Tracy Lee Stum (USA), Zee Schindler (Brazil), Anat Ronen (Israel) and Julio Jimenez (Mexico), who have created giant 3D artwork by the side of flyovers across the city.
“3D street art is an anti-gallery movement that aims to bring art outside the restricted spaces of its scholars and patrons into the public eye and to children, who do not frequent those places,” said Tracy.
According to Julio, it is also important to use public art to raise critical issues to viewers. “One of our paintings is of a giant pangolin, which seeks to highlight that animal is endangered… We were told (the animal) is killed for its scales and smuggled from the state.”
The state capital is also set to host popular professional story-tellers from across the world, including Kenya’s Wangari Grace and Spain’s Estibi Minguez. Deepa Kiran, a professional story-teller who is curating stories for the event, says this is the first time a state government is sponsoring a story-telling event. “Scotland has a decade-old story-telling festival, while the Iranian government employs people to keep such traditions alive,” she said.
state government is also focussing on sports to draw more tourists. “When tourists come for HWC later this month, they will get to know about our temples and heritage sites, and footfall across Odisha will rise”, said Odisha Tourism Minister Ashok Panda.
Lyricist Gulzar and music composer A R Rahman have been roped in by Odisha to produce the official song, “Jai Hind, Jai India”, for HWC that is scheduled to be held from November 28 to December 16, 2018, at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
A senior official with the tourism department, without wishing to be named, told The Indian Express that despite Odisha’s rich natural and heritage tourism sites, the state was unable to draw tourists in significant numbers. To broad base our tourism potential we need to focus on sports,” he said, adding that because Odisha hosted the Asian Athletic Championship in 2017, number of foreign tourist arrivals jumped by 31 per cent over the previous year.
In 2016, Odisha ranked nineteenth among all states in domestic tourist arrivals and twenty-first in foreign tourist arrivals.
On November 12, Reliance Industries Group committed to a partnership with the state government to set up the Reliance Foundation — Odisha High Performance Athletics Centre. JSW Group also will set up high-performance centres (HPCs) for football and swimming. The state government has recently inked MOUs for HPCs in badminton, weightlifting, shooting and hockey with some corporate giants.
In a pilot initiative in the country, the Odisha government in February had announced that it will sponsor national hockey teams for the next five years.