For Elisheva from Israel, a visit to Tamil Nadu was a long cherished one. She had been touring Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the past 10 days. A stop in Madurai for two days was important for her as she was yearning to explore one of the oldest cities in the world. “It was an exciting experience to see the architectural beauty of Meenakshi Amman Temple and other historical buildings here. I liked everything here, except for the hot weather,” she said.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Madurai has gone up to 2.17 lakh in 2017 from 1.22 lakh in 2016, which is an increase by 78%. When compared to 2010, the number of foreign tourists in 2017 was four times higher.
Growth of tourism here is not restricted to foreign tourists alone. There is a good increase in the number of domestic tourists as well. While the number of domestic tourists visiting Madurai and other southern districts is increasing every year, 2017 registered a healthy growth of 24% compared to its previous year.
Members of travel club and hoteliers opine that with the increasing number of tourists, various industries connected to tourism are also benefiting. It is also helping the local economy to grow. Foreigners visit Madurai mostly after visiting other places in Tamil Nadu including Mahabalipuram and Thanjavur and prefer to stay for at least two days.
Former president of Madurai Travel Club S Senthilnathan said the tourism department in Tamil Nadu in the last couple of years has been quite active. It has been into various activities in the foreign lands to promote tourism. Moreover, it has now started working with the Tamil Nadu Travel Mart Society and consulting with the stake holders, he said.
Program Advisor of Dhan Tourism for Development K P Bharathi said that among Indian states, Tamil Nadu is the numero uno, when it comes to attracting tourists for the last three years. “We have to concentrate more on the developing the lesser known places of interests in Madurai,” he said.
Furthermore, most of the tourists visiting Madurai are pilgrims. There are other natural sites and historical relics, which also need to be highlighted, he said. “We have been conducting heritage walk for the last ten years to highlight such places. It has good response,” Bharathi added.