Delhi with its rich heritage sites, modern healthcare centres and swanky business hubs emerged as the favourite destination among foreign tourists including business travellers in 2008, a study has revealed.
According to the latest data on state-wise tourist arrivals available with FICCI, a total of 23.4 lakh foreigners visited Delhi in 2008. The total foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India during the period was 53.6 lakh.
At the second spot, Maharashtra was close with 20.6 lakh visitors, followed by Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the FICCI-Evalueserve study on India Inbound Tourism said.
Mumbai and Pune are the biggest attraction among foreigners in Maharashtra, which is the third largest state.
While Tamil Nadu is famous for its beaches, hill stations, heritage sites, temples and wildlife, Uttar Pradesh is a popular destination due to the presence of religious and historical sites including the world famous Taj Mahal.
The study said one-third of foreign tourist visiting India travel to Rajasthan, which is known for palaces, art and culture.
The North-east region -- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura -- which offers numerous leisure and adventure is emerging as a significant FTA destination.
Meanwhile, another study by FICCI-Evalueserve said the medical tourism sector was not affected in 2009 even when the FTAs to India declined to 51.6 lakh from 53.6 lakh in 2008.
FTAs in 2009 declined primarily due to the global economic slowdown and Mumbai terror attacks, it said.
"The reasons are not far to seek. All medical procedures, including hospitalisation and recover costs are relatively low in India as compared to Europe and America," it said.
The number of medical tourists in India is expected to reach 10 lakh by 2012, with India's share in the global medical tourism industry reaching 2.4 per cent. The domestic market is likely to reach Rs 4,400 crore by 2012, the study said.