Since the early 1970s, tourism has been an important activity in the town. Because of this it is one of the few small towns in South India where one can hear many of the different languages of India spoken in the street.
Of late, the promotion of tourism has increased, with increasing emphasis on attractions outside the town, such as the surrounding landscapes, as well as the historical and religious sites found around the district. Ultimately a total of 1.9 million tourists (domestic and foreign) visited Kanyakumari in 2007.
The Kumari Amman or the Kanyakumari Temple, located on the shore, is a Shakti Peetha dedicated to a manifestation of Parvati, the virgin goddess who did penance to obtain Lord Shiva's hand in marriage. The temple and the adjoining ghat, situated overlooking the shore, attract tourists from all over the world. The sparkling diamond nose-ring of the deity is said to be visible even from the sea.
On two rocky islets just off the shore, southeast of the Kumari Amman temple, are the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, built in 1970 by Eknath Ranade, and the 133 feet (41 m) tall statue of Tamil saint–poet Thiruvalluvar, one of the biggest statues in Asia, completed in 2000 by sculptor V. Ganapati Sthapati. One of the rocks, called Sri Padhaparai, is said to bear the footprints of the virgin goddess. Swami Vivekananda is said to have meditated on this rock for three days. Also on this rock, there is a Dhyana mandapam, an area for meditation. Ferry services are available to reach the memorial.
The Gandhi Memorial has been built on the spot where the urn containing the Mahatma's ashes was kept for public viewing before immersion. Resembling central Indian Hindu temples in form, the memorial was designed in such a way that on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, 2 October, the first rays of the sun fall on the exact place where his ashes were kept.
People from all part of the world coming here especially to see sunrise and sunset.