Speaking at a Tamil Nadu Tourism Publicity and Marketing Meet here today, Commissioner of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, Dr Raja Ram said, ''Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states in tourist arrivals with 524 lakh tourists (506.47 lakh domestic and 17.53 lakh foreign) having visited during 2007, registering an unprecedented growth rate of 29.2 per cent. ''West Bengal is always one of the major contributors of domestic tourism in Tamil Nadu. In 2007, we received 12.67 lakh tourists from West Bengal,'' he informed.
To cater to the needs of the budget tourists, the TTDC has introduced numerous tourist packages, including the rail-cum-road tour operated from Kolkata.
''This tour, starting from Kolkata, covers Mammallapuram, Puducherry, Thanjavur, Rameswaram, Kanniyakumari, Madurai, Kodaikanal, Tiruchirapalli, Kancheepuram, Tirupathi and Chennai,'' Dr Raja Ram elaborated.
He informed that out of the 21 UNESCO-declared World Heritage Sites in India, Tamil Nadu has five - Mammallapuram, Thanjavur, Daraduram, Gangaikondacholapuram and Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
''Besides, it has hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud and Elagiri, pilgrimage centres like Madurai, Rameswaram and Kanniyakumari and wildlife sanctuaries like Mudumalai and Anamalai,'' he said.
It also has the second longest beach in the world, the Marina beach, after Rio-de-Janeiro in South America.
As part of the 'Virunthinar Pottruthum' campaign, akin to 'Atithi Devo Bhava', 39 'tourst-friendly' autorickshaws were flagged off recently.
Under the programme, training on etiquette, behaviour and culture was imparted to auto drivers, taxi drivers, traders, porters, hoteliers and police personnel in a phased manner, the Tourism Commissioner added.