Domestic and international tourist arrivals in Tamil Nadu has witnessed a 25 per cent increase in 2009 with its number crossing the eight crore mark.

Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation has targetted a 35 per cent rise in tourist arrivals during 2010.

In 2009, the number arrivals of both domestic and foreign travellers was 8,04,06,657 compared to previous year’s 6,46,58,671, thus registering a growth of 24.36 per cent, Achittaranja N. Mohandoss, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) Managing Director said.

The number of foreign tourists was 23,69,050 in 2009 compared to 20,40,419 in 2008, he told PTI.

With the end of ethnic war in Sri Lanka, arrival of Sri Lankan tourists has also increased. The number of Sri Lankan tourists, who visited the state during 2009, was 4,23,613 compared to previous year’s 3,84,176.

“In order to increase the tourist arrival figures in 2010, TTDC has chalked out various plans including introducing adventure sports this year”, he said. The plan is to increase tourist arrivals by 35 per cent.

According to TTDC statistics, April is considered to be the peak season in terms of tourist arrivals. In April 2009, 66,37,910 tourists visited Tamil Nadu compared to 44,07,230 in the year ago period.

Mr. Mohandoss said TTDC also plans to introduce sailing along the coast near Muttukadu this year. “ The boathouse and backwaters there offer the prefect setting for sailing”, he said.

Chennai tops the table in terms of tourist arrivals in 2009 followed by Madurai district. Out of the eight crore tourists arrivals Chennai alone accounts for about 1.3 crore and the famous temple town of Madurai about 77 lakh.

Tourism officials said with a view to attracting more tourists, TTDC also plans to renovate its hotels and resorts to make it on par with star hotels. The 25 TTDC-owned hotels in the State would be renovated at a cost of Rs. 6 crore.

Each hotel would have multi-cuisine facilities with latest equipment. Renovation for Mamallapuram resort alone would cost about Rs. 2 crore, officials said, and added that all the works would be completed very soon.

They said the State is also set to have more than 2,000 rooms in star category within the next two years. The tourism department would also impart training in various courses in hospitality education this summer.

The short-duration certificate courses for food production and beverage service and housekeeping would be conducted this summer at the Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Taramani, here. The institute would also conduct three-year B.Sc degree course in hospitality and hotel administration.

The courses would place emphasis on management development besides imparting communication skills and personality development, officials said.