‘Atithi devo bhava’ campaign of tourism department came under attack as a group of tourists from Malaysia cut short their Odisha visit in protest against alleged harassment by some priests at Alarnath temple, about 25 km from Puri, on October 4.
Contacted, the 6 Malaysian Chinese nationals, including 3 women were so much disturbed that they refused to speak to TOI and were reluctant to lodge any complaint with the police. However, their local tour operator in Puri narrated their plight and posted a tweet, urging the tourism department to intervene in the matter.
— Yugabrata (@Yugabrata1) October 4, 2017
“I received the tourists, who are followers of International society of Krishna consciousness (ISKCON) on Tuesday night. It was their maiden visit to Odisha. I had planned their visits to different destinations in and around Puri for Wednesday. Their first destination was Alarnath temple, which allows foreigners. But the tourists were chased, pestered and demanded money by some priests,” said the tour operator Yugabrata Kar, who is also the secretary of Odisha tour operators’ association.
Quoting the tourists, Kar said the security guards forced them to take out their belongings from luggage on the pretext of security check. “The foreigners were scheduled to visit some other sites nearby. But they were so scared and aggrieved that they cancelled their further trip. They left Odisha in a huff in the evening,” Kar said.
Tourism department said the matter is being inquired. “We took serious note of the incident. An inquiry will be made to identify those, who misbehaved with the tourists. We have been organising sensitisation programmes among tourism stakeholders, requesting them to be cordial to visitors. Priests is various temples should treat tourists like god,” state tourism director Nitin Jawale told TOI. Priests of Alarnath temple refused to comment.
Recently, the tourism department came to the rescue of an Italian couple after an online hotel booking agency took the foreigners for ride. The agency had taken money from the couple to accommodate them in a good hotel here. But the foreign couple were shocked to find a dirty room in a house, arranged for them by the agency.
Courtesy: Times of India