Special Correspondent

626 lakh domestic tourists, over 20 lakh foreign tourists

TTDC first State tourism corporation to introduce online booking

CHENNAI: Despite the downturn, tourist arrivals in the State have registered a significant increase, Minister for Tourism and Registration Suresh Rajan informed the Assembly on Tuesday.

Replying to the debate on registration and tourism, Mr. Rajan said more than 626 lakh domestic tourists and over 20 lakh foreign tourists visited the State in 2008. This represented a 23.4 per cent increase over that of the previous year. The length of average stay of the domestic tourist was four to five days. This figure was seven days in the case of a foreign tourist.

After the Centre began issuing medical visas with validity of up to one year to patients and their attenders, the number of medical tourists arriving in the State in 2008 has more than doubled; from 3,307 in 2007 to 7,307 in 2008. In 2006, the figure was 566.

The department was in the process of improving facilities in most locations and entering into tie-ups with private agencies where required. TTDC had franchised 24 hotels and seven restaurants to private hoteliers for 10 to 15 years. It had purchased modern boats at a cost of Rs.90 lakh. They had helped the TTDC to augment revenue from boathouses and register a revenue growth of 30 per cent in 2008-09 (Rs.7.74 crore) compared to the previous year.

Mr. Rajan said that the TTDC had earned the distinction of being the first State tourism corporation to introduce online booking of its tours and hotels. The earnings from bookings had increased from Rs.14.97 lakh in 2004-05 to Rs.138.7 lakh in 2008-09.