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Well-developed Infrastructure, Connectivity, and Religious and Medical Tourism to Drive Industry Growth
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Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states when it comes to the tourism industry in India; the state has been promoting tourism under the ‘Enchanting Tourism’ program. The state has almost a one-fifth share in both domestic and foreign tourist arrivals and its tourism industry is a major contributor to the GDP. The tourism industry in Tamil Nadu is mainly driven by well-developed infrastructure, connectivity with other cities, and strong economic growth. The travel services and hotel segment is expected to experience the maximum growth in 2019. The tourism industry is seeing a shift from destination-based tourism to experience-based tourism, especially from millennial tourists. This is expected to result in the development of niche tourism products and services by the tourism department in collaboration with private tourism companies and tour operators. The following sectors are the key tourism offerings that have been known to attract tourists to the state. Medical Tourism: The state is a major hub for medical tourism, especially the city of Chennai, due to its low-cost treatment facilities that are on par with some of the world’s finest hospitals. Culture and Heritage Tourism: The state is home to five UNESCO heritage sites and 48 UNESCO heritage towns due to its rich history and early civilizations. For instance, the Mamallapuram monuments and Thanjavur temples have been known to be very popular destinations with tourists.Pilgrimage Tourism: Approximately 33,000 ancient temples are present in the state and this tends to attract religious tourists. To cater to these tourists, the TTDC in partnership with the Indian Railways, is running a special train ‘Ram Sethu Express’ which covers 15 temples in the state.Leisure Tourism: The geography of the state has several offerings for the state from hill stations, waterfalls, beaches and wildlife sanctuaries, which attract tourists of all age groups.MICE Tourism: Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism or business tourism is a major growth driver for the industry. There is high demand for MICE centers due to the presence of large IT, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive companies in the state. Coimbatore and Chennai are the major MICE tourism destinations in Tamil Nadu.Cruise Tourism, Adventure Tourism and Eco-tourism: These sectors are the other major niche tourism products emerging in the state’s tourism industry. They offer significant potential due to the large number of tourists they attract. The government has made several investments and initiatives to promote and develop the tourism industry. Swadesh Darshan, which refers to the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits; Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD); and Adopt a Heritage are some schemes that are expected to further improve the tourism infrastructure in the state and boost overall tourism growth. Increasing number of tourists, rise in household incomes, fast-growing Internet and smartphone penetration are some factors that are encouraging industry growth. Tourists are expected to demand more personalized and customized services, especially in the case of millennials; this is expected to increase the reliance of the tourism industry on technology start-ups and emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence and IoT, which are expected to disrupt the tourism landscape.
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