The number of domestic tourists to Madurai has touched two crore mark for the first time in a year, as 2.09 crore visitors from the country arrived at the prime places of attraction in the city such as Meenakshi Amman Temple and Thirumalai Naicker Mahal in 2018. The number of foreign tourists also showed a robust growth.
There is 33% growth in the arrival of domestic tourists and 12% growth in foreign tourists last year compared to 2017. While 2,17,314 foreigners visited the city in 2017, as many as 2,44,182 tourists visited Madurai in 2018.
Officials attribute the growth to the various promotional activities they have conducted in the country and abroad. “Officials from the industry are taking part in road shows in various countries to woo tourists. The prevailing law and order situation in the state also reflected in the tourists’ growth. Tourists feel safe to visit the state,” an official from the tourism department said.
An official from Madurai tourism department said that many cultural programs were conducted last year to promote local arts and culture. The events such as village Pongal celebrations involving foreign tourists and facilitation to view Vandiyur Mariamman Temple floating festival were hits, he said.
Tour operators opined that most of the domestic tourists come to the city to visit Meenakshi Amman Temple. The city has an advantage of having places such as Rameswaram and Kanyakumari nearby, as many people visit Madurai with these places in their itinerary. They also insist that the scope of the tourism in Madurai should be expanded.
Vice-president of Tamil Nadu Travel Mart G Vasudevan said that the tourists want to explore village culture and their lifestyle and there are many who want to know more about the historical past of a particular place. There should be something for everyone, he said.
“Most of the tourists complete their trip with a visit to the temple and the palace. Madurai has more potential, which can be tapped. For instance, Gandhi Memorial Museum has immense potential. Similarly, the Jain beds in Keelakuyilkudi, Arittapatti and Yanamalai Othakadai can also be developed,” he said.
Vice-president of Madurai Travel Club G Raveendran said that the tourism industry has been very active for the last three years. There are positive signs for tourism in Madurai as the hospitality infrastructure is improving. However, except for a couple of places in the city, other places are yet to get the required exposure, he said.