CHENNAI, India – Lord Venkateswara of Tirumala attracts more domestic tourists than any other spot in the country — scenic, religious or otherwise. According to statistics for 2010 released by the Union tourism ministry, Andhra Pradesh has gained the position of the most visited destination in the country recording 155.8 million domestic tourists thanks to the Tirumala and Tirupati temples which attract the most domestic tourists.
The number of domestic tourists visiting Andhra Pradesh is more than Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, which have Taj Mahal and Ajanta Ellora, respectively, a senior Union tourism ministry official said.
Some 740 million tourists visited various destinations in the country in 2010 – up by 10.7% compared to last year. The number of domestic tourist visits to the states and Union Territories was 669 million in 2009 and 563 million in 2008. “The growth in domestic tourist visits in 2010 was about 11% in comparison with the previous year,” said the official.
VK Jeyakodi, secretary of Tamil Nadu tourism department, says: “Nearly 60% of the tourists visiting Tamil Nadu come under the cultural and pilgrimage category. Rameswaram temple has the maximum visitors every year and most of the pilgrims who visit Rameswaram also make it a point to visit Madurai. They visit the Meenakshi Amman temple and then proceed to Rameswaram.”
The remaining 40 per cent nclude those coming for medical treatment in hospitals in Chennai and a few other cities in Tamil Nadu. “We don’t have the exact data on medical tourists. We are creating one,” Jeyakodi said.