Even as Tamil Nadu rose to second position among States attracting the most number of domestic tourists in 2012, having received more than 18 crore visitors, destinations in the south of the State accounted for more than a quarter of those footfalls.
Approximately 5.26 crore domestic travellers explored popular destinations in the region in 2012.
According to the Department of Tourism, around 2.4 crore people visited the temple towns of Rameswaram and Madurai in 2012.
A sizable number among them were domestic tourists from northern and western States.
“Of the total 1.28 crore travellers to Rameswaram, nearly 70 per cent domestic tourists were from Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Many domestic tourists travel by train to visit Madurai, Rameswaram and Kanyakumari,” a tourism official said. While 1.13 crore domestic tourists landed at Madurai last year, 1.11 crore footfalls were recorded at Tiruvannamalai, the famed Saivite pilgrim centre. Coastal Tiruchendur, one of the six legendary abodes of Lord Murugan, accounted for around one crore visitors while 83.25 lakh tourists flocked to Kanyakumari on the southern tip of the peninsula.
Interestingly, Kodaikanal, in Dindigul district, appears to have overtaken Ooty in terms of attracting tourists to hill stations. While 86 lakh people toured the Nilgiris in 2012, the figure crossed the one crore mark in Kodaikanal.
However, Chennai topped the list among individual destinations with 1.67 crore domestic tourists during 2012.
A tourism official noted that while TN welcomed tourists from across the Nation, the inflow from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal was on the higher end. “People from West Bengal visit TN for both medical and spiritual tourism. The most favoured religious places for tourists from West Bengal are Madurai and Kanyakumari,” Vikram Sen, principal secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of West Bengal, told Express over phone. About 20 lakh Bengalis had visited Tamil Nadu in 2012.
TN most peaceful
The peaceful law and order situation is the key factor for the increase in the number of domestic tourists to the State, tourism experts observed.
According to Christie Rajan, chairman of Travel Agents Forum, the stable law and order situation in TN is wooing more North Indians. “Tourism can thrive only when peace prevails. Tamil Nadu is the most peaceful State in India,” he claimed. Another factor for the jump in arrival of domestic tourists was the presence of reputed corporate hospitals in Chennai, he pointed out.