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Taking a cue from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka includes pilgrims to compute visitors

10 June 2012

Sharath S. Srivatsa, Bangalore:

Only a miracle can more than double a business in a year. And this is what has happened to Karnataka's tourism industry, which has reported a spectacular increase with the numbers more than doubling in just one year — from 3.85 crore in 2010 to 8.46 crore in 2011. So what is the miracle? Pilgrimage centres.
Taking a cue from Andhra Pradesh, which takes into account the huge influx to Tirupati-Tirumala to compile its tourist inflow, Karnataka's Tourism Department has also computed visitors to 49 religious destinations to boost its figures.


Always a neighbour's envy, Tirupati-Tirumala, with its celebrated Venkateshwara shrine, receives over 3 crore pilgrims annually and is the single largest contributor to Andhra Pradesh's total tourist inflow figures.

In 2011, Karnataka began adding religious destinations, including its famed temples, popular and politically powerful religious maths, dargahs and gurudwaras, among others, to its tally.
The tourist inflow into the State, which had dipped to 3.29 crore in 2009 from 3.75 crore in 2008 because of recession, had picked up in 2010 to 3.85 crore. But in 2011, it totted up an eye-popping 8.46 crore, thanks to religious tourism contributing 3.49 crore, which accounts for a massive 41.3 per cent.

Justifying the change in the pattern of data collection, a senior Tourism Department official told The Hindu that Andhra Pradesh's tourism figure was high mainly due to the addition of tourist inflow into Tirupati-Tirumala and other religious destinations. “When they are adding pilgrimage destinations, so can we. Even other States are also doing it,” the official said.
Further, he pointed out: “The Union Tourism Ministry has directed States to add pilgrimage centres in the list as any movement of people from the place of their residence could be considered as travel.” Pilgrimage tourism was also on the rise across the country, he added.


Pilgrimage towns from where data has been collected include Sringeri and Horanadu (Chikmagalur district), Nanjangud (Mysore), Yediyur and Goravanahalli (Tumkur), Banashankari (Bagalkot), Melkote (Mandya), Kollur and Udupi (Udupi), and Dharmasthala, Kateel and Kukke Subramanya (Dakshina Kannada). The religious maths include Suttur Math in Mysore, Siddaganga Math in Tumkur, Siddaroodha Math in Dharwad, and Gavi Math in Koppal.