KEVADIYA (Gujarat): Within 11 months of its unveiling, the Statue of Unity is attracting tourist footfall which is almost on par with the 133-year-old Statue of Liberty, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.
Modi, who turned 69 on Tuesday, visited the 182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, considered to be the world's tallest, at Kevadiya in Gujarat's Narmada district.
The Statue of Unity was opened to the public on October 31, 2018 to mark the birth anniversary of the country's first home minister.
Since then, it has attracted on average 8,500 tourists per day, Modi told the gathering.
"Kevadiya and Gujarat are on the world tourism map because of the Statue of Unity. I am told over 23 lakh tourists from India and across the world have visited this place in the last 11 months. On average, around 8,500 persons come here. And, I am informed that the number swelled to 34,000 on Janmashtami (August 24)," the PM said.
"The Statue of Liberty (in the United States) attracts on average 10,000 tourists every day. But you need to keep in mind that it is 133 years old. On the other hand, Statue of Unity is just 11 months old. Despite that, it is attracting over 8,500 tourists every day. This is a miracle," he said.
The 92 metres tall Statue of Liberty, which stands on Liberty Island on New York Harbour, was inaugurated on October 28, 1886.
According to the officials here, the Statue of Unity gets maximum footfall on weekends.
In the first 11 days of its opening, over 1,28,000 tourists visited the site, with the maximum number of people visiting during the weekends.
On the week-end during the initial days, the number was about 50,000.
The government is adding several additional attractions, such as the recently-started 5-km river rafting ride, to woo tourists.
Other recently added attractions include the Butterfly Park, Jungle Safari Park and Children Nutrition Park. The Tourism Corporation of Gujarat provides tents for stay in the area.
Modi, who was here to take part in the state government's `Namami Devi Narmade Mahotsav', held to mark the Sardar Sarovar Dam in the vicinity reaching its full reservoir level of 138.68 metres for the first time, spent nearly four hours visiting various attractions built around the Statue.
Four hours were not enough to experience them all, he said.
"In coming days, when the tourism-related projects here get completed, employment opportunities will increase. Our tribal friends who produce vegetables, fruits, flowers, and milk will get a very big market here itself," he said.
Modi had recently also tweeted about the US' Time magazine including the Statue of Unity in its 2019 list of the World's 100 Greatest Places.