New Delhi: With both domestic and foreign tourists visiting the state round the year, Himachal Pradesh registered a record growth in tourist arrivals in 2010.
An estimated 1.32 crore tourists visited Himachal Pradesh in 2010 as against 1.14 crore in 2009, an increase of 16.38 per cent, data prepared by state tourism department said.
The number of foreign tourists also increased from 4,00,583 in 2009 to 4,54,851 in 2010 thereby registering an increase of 13.55 per cent, a record in terms of foreign tourist traffic to the state.
Most foreign visitors came from the United States, Canada, Australia and England.
Buoyed by the growth rate, state tourism department hopes to achieve the target of 1.5 crore tourists in 2011.
According to an estimate, an additional amount of Rs 300 crore is likely to be injected into the state economy every year through the tourism sector and if present growth trend continues, the tourism sector is likely to contribute Rs 1,250 crore to the state`s GDP by the year 2015.
The popular tourist destinations of Kullu, Kangra and Shimla were the major draws with about 50 per cent of the tourists visiting these places in the hill state.
The famous hill stations Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, Dalhousie and Kasauli were also preferred by both Indian and foreign tourists.
According to the data, the highest number of tourists (17,03,757) including 47,735 foreigners visited the hill state in June.
Kangra, Kullu and Shimla districts recorded highest number of tourists with 1,784,158 (91,160 foreigners) in Kangra, 2,499,549 tourists (1,32,786 foreigners) in Kullu and 2,608,835 tourists (1,24,273 foreigners) visiting Shimla in 2010.
Dharamshala, which hosted two IPL matches for the first time in April 2010 attracted around 50,000 tourists during the matches.
During June-August period in the tribal belt of the state, as many as 53,100 foreign tourists visited the Lahaul Spiti district during this time while 10,493 foreign tourists visited the tribal Kinnaur belt during the period.
According to the data, majority of the foreign tourists who visited the tribal belt were below the age of 45 years and visited the tribal area for mountaineering, expeditions and research work.
In order to attract more foreign tourists, the tourism department would launch a promotional campaign in Europe and Asia.