Shimla: Contrary to the popular belief, Himachal Pradesh does not even figures in top ten preferred destinations among domestic travellers in India.
In recently released data, the market research division of the Union tourism ministry said that during 2009, the number of domestic tourist visits to various states was 650 million (65 crore), as compared to 563 million (56.3 crore) in 2008 and 527 million (52.7 crore) in 2007.
Over the past three years, most Indians have headed to Andhra, especially to Tirupati. Uttar Pradesh comes a second in the list, with Agra’s Taj Mahal being the most visited destination in the state.
According to the report the top 10 states in terms of number of domestic tourist visits during 2009 were Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Gujarat. Put together, these states accounted for 88% of the total number of domestic tourist visits in 2009.
While 15.75 crore Indian tourists visited Andhra in 2009, UP and Tamil Nadu received 13.48 crore and 11.57 crore visitors respectively. In distant fourth, fifth and sixth place were Karnataka (3.27 crore), Rajasthan (2.55 crore) and Maharashtra (2.37 crore), respectively. Maharashtra’s domestic tourist base has steadily grown, from 1.92 crore in 2007. Rajasthan recorded arrivals of 2.55 crore domestic tourists in 2009.
However, supposedly most preferred destinations like Himachal Pradesh had just 1.1 crore Indian tourists in 2009. Kashmir had 92.35 lakh, Kerala 77.89 lakh and Goa 21.27 lakh.
Religious tourism and corporate visits have pulled domestic tourists to places like Andhra and Tamil Nadu. Himachal Pradesh still is struggling with infrastructure issues as there is no proper airport and railway lines in the state. Add to this unplanned growth of towns have spoilt the natural beauty of the state.