Madhya Pradesh is fast emerging as a major destination for domestic tourists, leaving other States far behind.

A study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India [Assocham] has found that domestic tourist arrival in the State has grown at a staggering compounded annual growth rate [CAG] of 381 per cent between 2006 and 2012.

Maharashtra came a distant second with a CAG of 293 per cent followed by Tamil Nadu with 215.6 per cent, Karnataka 160 per cent and Andhra Pradesh 85 per cent.

The recent surge has meant that Madhya Pradesh is now a more popular destination for domestic tourists than even Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

In terms of foreign tourists, however, the State has not been able to make such a breakthrough. It is yet to find a place in the top 10 list for tourist arrivals from overseas.

In addition, it has also not been able to attract much investment in the hotel industry and other segments of the tourism sector. The study found that the State had been able to attract investment proposals worth just about Rs.418 crore as of 2012-13, against nearly Rs.35,000 crore by Gujarat, Rs. 22,000 crore by Maharashtra, and Rs. 17,000 crore by Karnataka.

Noting that the study showed that there was a huge potential for private investment in the tourism sector in Madhya Pradesh, National Secretary General of Assocham, D.S.Rawat, urged the State Government to come out with clear land bank policies for improving the physical infrastructure. “There is tremendous scope to develop star rated hotels across M.P. to offer quality experience,” he said.

He also stressed the need to promote training facilities for the manpower engaged in different segments of the tourism industry and called for adopting a public-private parternship framework to build and manage tourist facilities.