Deplorable roads have put brakes on inflow of tourists to Koraput district of South Odisha that has wowed visitors with its pristine ambience and pleasant weather.
"Bad roads keep tourists away from Koraput, except for Gupteswar, which is a big draw. It is sad because roads in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are far better," said a Koraput-based social activist Bhabani Mishra.
Some projects such as expansion of NH-26 has been inordinately delayed. The work that started around four years ago is yet to be completed. As a result, people find it difficult to maneuver this road resulting in traffic jams. "The NH-26 from Sunki to Chandili is in a horrible condition and is responsible for defaming the district's tourism sector. It takes hours to cover a distance of 10 km on this road," said social activist Santosh Patro.
The number of foreign tourists visiting this tribal-dominated district has also taken a beating.
Only 20 have come to the district in the past two months. But at the same time 10 tour operaters have cancelled packages of foreign nationals to the district owing to bad roads, in the past two months, officials said.
Admitting to the fact that bad roads have hit tourism, district tourism officer Bhagaban Khora said, "Foreign tourists complain of the awful roads in Koraput district. So tour operators inquire about the roads before bringing foreigners here, while many throng to Arku Valley in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh."
The non-availability of drinking water at tourist spots and places to stay does not augur well for the already fledging tourism sector.
"Tourists flow is unlikely to increase until basic infrastructure and amenities are improved," said Khora.