Vishal Dev, Secretary, Sports & Tourism
Vishal Dev, Odisha’s secretary(Building Odisha as Sports & Tourism Hub) for sports & tourism hub stole the limelight recently when the state made the grand announcement to host the Hockey World Cup for 2023. Besides Bhubaneswar, the traditional hockey hub Rourkela will be hosting the ensuing edition of the sports spectacle.
The state government also announced the setting up of a permanent High-Performance Centre at the Kalinga Stadium, catering to hockey and athletics and hosting the Abhinav Bindra Targeted Performing Centre.
Currently, the ABTP and Naval Tata Hockey Academy operate out of the main hockey stadium building. “It would be spread over 1.20 lakh square meters and have accommodation facilities also for all the players and staff. We have plans for 10 HPCs, the others including for swimming and shooting, etc would come up outside,” Dev said.
Odisha over the past three to four years has demonstrated enormous commitment and preparedness in hosting sports events of international stature. The state made a splash in November 2017 when Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium played host to the Asian Athletics Championship.
The state officials stewarded by Dev prepared everything in an astonishing span of only 90 days. What ensued was the Hockey League and the Hockey World Cup, the acme of the state’s performance in sports.
Of late, the state government has bought its own Football Club. Odisha is also the sponsor for the national hockey squad- both men and women. It is estimated that the state government is spending Rs 30 crore each year towards funding the two hockey teams.
Under Dev’s leadership, the outlay for sports is only escalating. In the Budget for 2019-20, Rs 266.31 crore has been made available for sports & youth affairs.
Dev feels that there is a huge scope for promoting sports across the state. He’s already making tireless efforts to project Bhubaneswar as the country’s ‘sports capital’.
His department is laying more thrust on promoting rural sports and scouting for talent in smaller towns. To realize it, the state government has unveiled plans to set up four sports centers in as many cities.
Simultaneously, Dev is also wedded to the cause of promoting Odisha’s tourism products. He has redone the Odisha Tourism portal to make it more eclectic and attractive with both the inbound tourists and potential investors.
In the new portal, the state has deployed Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) that conflates artificial intelligence and analytics to
provide better services to the tourists.
The department has gone for aggregation of five websites into one website to create a consolidated portal to create a one-stop solution and a single identity of Odisha for a prospective tourist.
Recently, the state tourism department kicked off the Eco Retreat initiative on the famed Konark marine drive. The retreat has 50 luxury cottages with five-star facilities and tourists can opt for two-days of local sight-seeing and enjoy Odisha’s culture, art, and cuisine.
Activities like speed boating, paramotoring, bicycling, rifle shooting, zorbing, beach volleyball, and archery are also organized.