T.S. Shankar

It will help to plan package tours covering southern regions

CHENNAI: The prospects of introducing a regional tourist train touching important tourist spots among four Southern States, and launching joint promotional campaigns to woo domestic and foreign visitors have brightened with the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department joining the Southern India Tourism Council (SITCON).

"Tamil Nadu being a signatory to the SITCON and getting the official member status will help in planning and implementing package tours covering the southern regions since tourists who visit Tamil Nadu are keen to go to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala as well," says Tourism and Culture Secretary V. Irai Anbu.

It was conceived by Andhra Pradesh at the conference of the Southern Region Tourism Ministers. The other members, besides Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, are Kerala and Karnataka and the Union Territories of Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

While the travel trade in Chennai has welcomed the inclusion of Tamil Nadu in the member list of the SITCON, official sources said with the help of the Council, the members could sort out the inter-State tourism-related problems. Pointing out that the recent road shows in Malaysia and Singapore had received positive response from overseas tour operators, Mr.Anbu said there was a steady increase in tourist arrivals every year. In 2005, the State received 323.39 lakh domestic tourists and 11.79 lakh overseas visitors, and up to October in 2006, it received 392.14 lakh domestic tourists and 13.35 foreign tourists.