The 'Statue of Unity' dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is likely to propel the tourism growth of Gujarat, an official said on Wednesday.
The number of tourists visiting Gujarat is expected to go up to around 7.5 crore per year by 2020 from the present five crore, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited's manager Sanatan Pancholi told reporters in Panaji.
The 182-metre tall Statue of Unity, built on an islet near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat's Narmada district, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31.
"In the last five years, Gujarat tourism has been witnessing year-on-year growth of 17 per cent in footfalls with the count of visitors touching five crore last year," Pancholi said.
With the addition of Statue of Unity and other tourist attractions, Gujarat will touch 7.5 crore footfalls by 2020, considering the marketing campaigns launched by the state government in the domestic sector," he said.
"Over two lakh tourists, most of them domestic travellers, have already visited the Statue of Unity since its launch. There is curiosity and it is also a moment of pride for ever Indian to see something like this in the country," Pancholi said.
The statue would be an added attraction for tourists who come to Gujarat. It is a part of 'destination tourism', which would be extensively marketed in foreign countries apart from the domestic sector, he said.
"Gujarat tourism is concentrating on the domestic market and it is working wonderful for us," he said, expressing hope that more foreign tourists will also visit the statue, which is touted as the tallest in the world.
Pancholi said the efforts made by then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in 2006 to promote the state as a tourist destination were fetching good results.
He attributed the tourism growth to Gujarat government's marketing and also its campaign featuring megastar Amitabh Bachchan.