It gives us all in Odisha a sense of prestige and pride, to host for the second time, the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023. For a long time, Odisha was known as a laggard state, but the past two decades have seen its accelerated transformation across all verticals. The recently concluded third edition of ‘Make In Odisha Conclave’ brought in investment proposals of Rs. 10.5 trillion, topping the previous sums by a big margin. This speaks volumes.
Apart from our industrial capability, it is sports that has put us on the global map. To be entrusted to host significant sporting events provides a state with large intangible benefits. Odisha has previously hosted other large sporting events - the Asian Athletic Championship and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
As the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup enters its final week, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela have received support from around the world, which has boosted their economies. From an economic standpoint, the tournament has proven to be a growth enabler and a driver of sustained development. Besides helping propel Odisha to global prominence, the tournament continues to boost the popularity of hockey in India.
The main business sectors that have benefitted from this mega sporting event are food and beverage (F&B), real estate, tourism, and hospitality.
The local hospitality space has evolved in terms of the increase in the number of hotels available and also in the range of brands entering the market. This has established a solid base for building a destination of wide appeal with a comprehensive choice of accommodation type and budget.
Odisha has already introduced shuttle flights between Bhubaneswar and Rourkela for passengers flying to attend the ongoing Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup and the route has been fairly busy. It is expected to play a vital role in the development of the region and will serve a permanent economic purpose, dovetailing with the objectives of encouraging tourism and diversifying the economy.
The flight is operating seven days a week and acts as an important link. It will boost connectivity, commerce and tourism, fulfilling the aspirations of the people of the region. Earlier, the travel time between the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar and the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela was nine hours. It will now be reduced to just one hour and 10 minutes by air. The East Coast Railway too is running two new special trains between Bhubaneshwar and Rourkela in view of the Hockey World Cup.
The state has constructed the new state-of-the-art Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela, which boasts of the highest seating capacity for hockey fans, refurbished the stadium in Bhubaneswar one and beautified the venue. There has been further upgradation of the airport, hotels, and significant portions of the city’s other infrastructure, such as roads.
Businesses can take advantage of the booming market in the local economy, especially in the steel, iron, and cement sectors, as Rourkela is known as the ‘Steel City’. The soft power gains Odisha stands to make from hosting the World Cup twice in a row are worth the effort as well.
After the spectators depart, the significant investment in infrastructure will be used for hosting other national and international hockey matches and Rourkela will emerge as the ‘Hockey Capital’ of India.
Integrating the tournament into its development plans, Odisha has approached the World Cup as an opportunity for economic transformation and modernization, as well as a medium to showcase its culture and hospitality on a global scale. Odisha is undoubtedly pioneering the sports tourism segment in India. Tourist destinations are very accessible here and Odisha has proven its steel in organising massive sports events successfully.
To engage fans and tourists, Odisha is also hosting the Dot Fest, which includes a flea market/night bazaar, photo exhibition - ‘Sebbe o Ebbe’ - to showcase the photographs of Bhubaneswar from the late 1860s to 2023, an international food festival comprising cuisines of the 16 participating nations in the world cup, trails around the capital city, and a storytelling festival – Bhu-festo.
It is not just Odisha that is benefitting but also the country and the sport of hockey as well. Today, people are lining up to watch hockey matches and celebrate the wins. Odisha is committed to ensuring that this World Cup leaves a truly transformational social, human and economic legacy, and is remembered as a landmark moment in the history of not just Odisha but India.