KONARK: The 19th Konark Festival will kick off at open air auditorium here tomorrow. It will continue till Monday.
The festival was earlier scheduled from December 1 to 5. But due to national mourning following death of former Prime Minister V P Singh, the festival was rescheduled.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is scheduled to inaugurate the festival. Budget for the festival this year is pegged at Rs 30 lakh.
This year the festival would showcase group presentations on six styles of Indian classical dance forms like Odissi, Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathak and Manipuri.
But a cursory glance at the foreign tourist arrival figures over the years reveal that all is not well with the festival.
The festival was started by Department of Tourism in 1989 with an aim to highlight the world heritage site Konark and promote it as a major tourist destination among foreign tourists by presenting different classical dance forms of India.
But the festival is yet to achieve its goal even after 18 years of existence. It is yet to be widely publicised abroad despite spending of huge amount of money. According to data available, less than 500 foreign tourists have been witnessing the festival each year during past few years. When more than 30,000 to 40,000 foreign tourists are visiting Orissa every year, the meagre tourist presence in Konark festival only points to inefficiency on the part of the organisers, said a culture lover. Not only foreign tourist traffic but also overall tourist flow to the festival is also too less pegged merely between 1500 and 2500. Though the official sources put the number of viewers between 8,000 and 9,000 every year, but verifying the tickets sold, it can be found that most of the viewers are invitees.
During previous years, artisan village, art gallery and sand art exhibition were put up and stone carving competition and shows held to draw tourists, but no such activities has been taken this year. As the performances are only of two-hour duration each evening, other allied activities are necessary to hook the tourists, said a tourist guide.
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