Foreign tourists flock to Himachal

New Delhi: The number of foreign tourists visiting Himachal Pradesh has doubled in the past five years, the state govenment said Sunday.

‘The number of the international travelers has rapidly increased from 2.07 lakh in 2005 to 4.85 lakhs in 2011,’ the statement said.

The number of international tourist is likely to exceed 500,000 in 2012.

While 4.53 lakh foreign tourists flocked to the state in 2010, their number increased to 4.85 in 2011.

The top three countries from where tourists come to Himachal Pradesh are Britain, the US and France, followed by Australia.

The state hosted 1.60 lakh foreign tourists from the four countries in 2011.

Shimla, Kullu and Kangra have emerged as popular tourist destinations ‘where the constant influx of people doesn’t limit itself to the usual summer and holiday high seasons,’ said the statement.

A total of 1.38 lakh foreign tourists visited Kullu while Shimla received 1.34 lakh foreign tourists in 2011. Kangra received 98,962 foreign tourists.

Shimla, Manali, Dharmshalal, Mcleodganj, Kasauli Chail, Dalhousie, Keylong, Palampur remained top most visited Indian hill stations by estimated four lakh international tourists during the year 2011.

‘The department has chalked out plan to increase the average stay of tourists from the present two and half day by at least a day to trigger the spending by at least 20 per cent,’ said Dr. Arun Sharma, director of tourism and civil aviation.