New Delhi, July 24: Lord Venkateshwara or Lord Balaji of Tirumala blesses the state of Andhra Pradesh and helps the state stay as the top tourist destination in India. With the visit of 206.8 million domestic tourists last year, AP retains the top slot and makes Union Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi happy as AP is his home state.
Tamil Nadu was at second spot with 184.1 million and Uttar Pradesh stood at third position as it attracted 168.4 million tourists in 2012, according to the figures released by the union tourism ministry.
Despite grim economic situation, the footfall at domestic tourist destinations across the country witnessed a good growth. It 1,036 million in 2012 compared to 865 million in 2011 -- an increase of 19.87 per cent. In 2010 the figure was 748 million.
The number of foreign tourists visiting the country too registered a growth of 6.33 per cent during 2012. The number of foreign tourists was 20.7 million in 2012 as compared to 19.5 million in 2011 and 17.9 million in 2010.
Andhra Pradesh registers very good footfall due the Lord Venkateswara temple is situated in the hill town of Tirumala near Tirupati in Chittoor district.
The 10th century Hindu temple attracts more tourists than domestic visitors to Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The northern state of UP hosts Taj Mahal and the western Indian state of Maharashtra is home to Ajanta-Ellora cave temples.
According to the ministry data, the top ten states in terms of number of domestic tourist visits (in millions) during 2012 are: Andhra Pradesh (206.8), Tamil Nadu (184.1), Uttar Pradesh (168.4), Karnataka (94.1), Maharashtra (66.3), Madhya Pradesh (53.2), Rajasthan (28.6), Uttarakhand (26.8), Gujarat (24.4) and West Bengal (22.7).
These states accounted for major chunk of tourists at 84.5 per cent of the total number of domestic tourists. This reveals that there is scope for growth as other states can develop their tourist destinations with proper infrastructure and awareness.
Maharashtra tops in visits by foreign tourists
On the foreign tourists front, the state of Maharashtra took the top honours with 5.1 million visiting the state in 2012 followed by Tamil Nadu with 3.6 million. Maharashtra's capital Mumbai being country's business capital, does attract lot of foreign visitors.
Delhi remained at the third spot with 2.3 million foreigners, while Uttar Pradesh with two million visitors occupied the fourth position.
The top ten most sought after states by foreign tourists (in millions) during 2012 were Maharashtra (5.1), Tamil Nadu (3.6), Delhi (2.3), Uttar Pradesh (2.0), Rajasthan (1.5), West Bengal (1.2), Bihar (1.1), Kerala (0.8), Karnataka (0.6) and Himachal Pradesh (0.5). These states together accounted for 90.1 per cent of the total number of foreigners visiting the country in 2012.