NEW DELHI, India – Reclaiming its position as a favoured Asian destination, India posted a 24% increase in foreign tourist arrivals in 2010 as compared to 2009. The number of foreign tourist visits during 2010 was 17.9 million compared to 14.4 million in the previous year, registering a growth of 24.2%.
Data released by the tourism ministry showed a maximum of 5.1 million foreign tourists visited Maharashtra, making it the top state in 2010 followed by Tamil Nadu (2.8 million) and Uttar Pradesh (1.7 million).
The other states and Union Territories which attracted foreign tourists in significant numbers were Delhi (1.9 million), Rajasthan (1.3 million) and West Bengal (1.2 million). Those states and UTs which attracted less than a million tourists in 2010 were Kerala (0.66 million), Bihar (0.64 million), Himachal Pradesh (0.45 million) and Goa (0.44 million).
Among domestic destinations, Andhra Pradesh continued to hold the top slot, recording 155.8 million domestic tourists last year thanks to pilgrims heading to Tirupati. Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu settled at second and third positions respectively with 144.8 million and 111.6 million domestic tourists.
The footfall at domestic tourist destinations across the country witnessed a surge, touching 740 million in 2010, an increase of 10.7% from the previous 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 visit in 2010 was about 11% in comparison against the previous year,” said a ministry official. The other states in the top ten category were Maharashtra (48.5 million), Karnataka (38.2 million), Madhya Pradesh (38.1 million), Uttarakhand (30.2 million), Rajasthan (25.5 million), West Bengal (21.1 million) and Gujarat (18.9 million).
The contribution of top 10 states was about 85.5 % to the total number of domestic tourist visits during 2010.