The city's summer may be driving its residents to cooler tourist destinations but Chennai, during summer, draws tourists from all over the world for a combination of reasons.

Braving the summer, many tourists from other States come on heritage visits, pilgrimages and sightseeing. “Our tourists are predominantly from West Bengal, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The heat does not deter them as they have a harsher summer in their States. We also see a growing foreign inflow from the Middle East and southeast Asian countries,” says A. C. Mohandoss, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation.

The Department of Tourism packages its strong points to lure the tourists. The government-maintained places such as Muttukadu, Mudaliarkuppam and Mamallapuram, which find a place in many tourists' itinerary, are made tourist-friendly.

For adventure freaks, the Rain Drop Boat House, Mudaliarkuppam, offers a better bet this summer, with its recently introduced parasailing and water-skiing facilities. The water scooters at Muttukadu have been getting their share of patronage throughout the year. It is expected to see a rise this vacation. TTDC Mahabalipuram Beach Resort Complex has opened its bookings for summer and so has the Tourist Department's Hotel Tamil Nadu located in other major cities.

The ECR destinations are linked by the TTDC Hop-on Hop-off coaches, which was a step towards making tour trips in the city a sophisticated affair.

Private players along the stretch, including VGP Universal Kingdom, Mayajaal, MGM Dizzee World and Dakshinachitra, on their part, pull a good number of tourists. While East Coast Road remains the main attraction, the Tourism Department is promoting lesser-known places in and around Chennai. Many weekend packages from Chennai have been introduced by the department. As a ripple effect, places such as Vellore, Kancheepuram and Puducherry have seen a jump in the tourist inflow, the department officials say.

The choice of many tourists, however, is the good old places in the city. For Rathna Ishwar, a native of Chennai who works in Delhi, visits to Chennai with her friends have always been scheduled for May. “Delhi's summer is unbearable and we come down almost every other year to Chennai. Shopping has been the major draw for my friends,” she said.

“Shopping malls are picking up in the city like any other metro but what is characteristic of Chennai is its old-time shopping places.”.

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