International shopping festival to be held in Bhubaneswar

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 16 (UNI) An international shopping festival will be held at Bhubaneswar to promote rural tourism and woo tourists from all over the country and abroad, Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni said here today.

Inaugurating the second national Toshali craft mela here, the Union Minister said the shopping festival would serve as a platform for the rural artisans to exhibit and sell their products and fetch a better price for their creations, The Minister said the Union Government was promoting rural tourism with a view to conserving the rich culture, craft and arts of the country for the coming generations and to provide a better income to the artisans.

She said the government wanted to spend a portion of the 12 billion US dollar that the tourism sector had earned for the development of rural craft.

Another objective was to check the influx of people from rural areas to urban area in search of jobs, she said.

Referring to the last night's tragic incident where 14 police personnel and a civilian was killed in naxal attack at Nayagarha, the Minister said such attacks were linked to the economic situation and the promotion of rural tourism could help solve the problem to a great extent.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, state Tourism Minister Debi Prasad Misra said the government wanted to organise the mela in the lines of Suraj Kunda mela to attract more tourists to the state.

Local MP Prasana Patsani urged the Minister to allocate more funds for the development of tourism in the state.

The mela, which started today with the support of UNDP, Union Tourism Ministry and Eastern Cultural Zonal Council, would continue till February 28.

UNI BD SJC RAR KN2238

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