Tamil Nadu is No.1 destination for foreigners

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New Delhi: India has emerged as a popular destination for high-spending foreign tourists as the industry experienced a strong period of growth over the past four years, according to government data.

Tamil Nadu has attracted the largest number of overseas visitors with 1,753,103 foreigners having visited the southern state in 2007, 2,029,410 in 2008 and 2,369,050 in 2009, according to official Ministry of Tourism data.

The arrival of foreign tourists during January to November 2010 saw an upsurge by 10.4 percent against the arrivals over the same period in 2009.

Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha recently, said the number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 (January-November) were 5.08 million, 5.28 million, 5.11 million (provisional) and 4.93 million (provisional) respectively.

According to the data, Delhi and Maharashtra follow close on the heels of Tamil Nadu with 1,958,272 and 1,999,320 visitors respectively in the year 2009.

The North-East remains an obscure tourism destination for foreigners despite its breathtaking landscape, with Manipur registering a dismal 337 visitors in 2009.

Mizoram had 669 foreign visitors in 2007, 902 in 2008 and 513 in 2009.

However, during 2009, FTAs in India had registered a decline of 3.3 percent over 2008. Ahmed attributed the decline in 2009 to various  reasons, including global slowdown and the H1N1 pandemic.

To attract more foreign tourists to India, the Ministry of Tourism has taken number of steps, including advertising in India and abroad, participation in travel fairs, exhibitions, road shows, India evenings, seminars and workshops, publication of brochures and offering incentives to inbound travelers, he said.

The Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism has also been expanded so as to provide financial assistance to service providers for the promotion of domestic, medical and wellness and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) Tourism in the country.

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