Bhutan Records Highest Number Of International Leisure Tourist Arrivals In 2017

Email

Bhutan continues to be an attractive tourism destination, which is evident from its growing popularity resulting in the increase in arrivals annually.

Royal Laya Highland Festival Oct 2017. (Source: DrukAsia)

 

By Dechen Tshomo Kuensel

Bhutan recorded the highest international leisure arrivals last year with 62,272 visitors, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2017.

This represents a growth in international leisure arrivals of 14.1 percent over the previous year. Of the 71,417 international arrivals, 9,145 were official and business arrivals.

Statistical breakdown of tourist arrivals

More than half of the international tourists (54.7 percent) were from the Asia and Pacific region followed by Europe and North America at 24.8 and 18 percent. Visitors from the Middle-East and Africa comprise less than one percent, according to the report.

Source: Kuensel Online

 

Bhutan received a total of 254,704 visitors last year, of which 183,287 were regional visitors from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

While tourist arrivals increased by 21.5 percent in 2017, Bhutan saw the highest growth in 2016 with a 35 percent increase in total visitors in the last five years.

Meanwhile, the percentage increase of regional tourist decreased by more than 50 percent in 2017. Bhutan saw an increase of 50.43 percent of tourists in 2016 as compared to 24.9 percent increase in 2017.

Rise in tourism income

Income from tourism has increased by 8.2 percent or USD 6.07M (million) compared to 2016 while income from international leisure tourists increased from USD 73.74M in 2016 to USD 79.807M last year.

Of which, USD 22.361M was direct revenue for the government through the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF).

TCB states that Bhutan continues to be an attractive tourism destination, which is evident from its growing popularity resulting in the increase in arrivals annually.

 

Source: DrukAsia

 

Bhutan also continues to gain impetus in the international community as a sustainable tourism destination as evidenced from the Earth Award it won during the Sustainable Tourism Top 100 Awards Ceremony at the International Tourismus-Borse (ITB) Berlin 2018,” it reported.

Female visitors made up a majority with 59.1 percent and most visitors were between the age of 41 and 60.

Top 10 nations of international tourists who visit Bhutan

In terms of visitor arrivals, India remains the main source market with 172,751 arrivals. Bangladesh and USA follows next with 10,536 and 9,220 visitors.

The number of Chinese visitors fell by 30.3 percent from the previous year, dropping to the fourth from the second top ten source of markets for Bhutan in 2016.

USA, UK, Germany, China, Japan, Singapore, Australia and Thailand remained in the top 10 major source of international markets over the past decade, according to the tourism monitor.

Canada is replaced by Malaysia from 2012 to date and France has been replaced by South Korea from 2017. However, Japan had shown a drop in growth rate with a 43.2 percent fall in arrivals in 2017.

Surge in tourists numbers from South Korea

There was a significant increase in arrivals from South Korea from 1,035 in 2016 to 6,048 last year, registering a growth rate of 484 percent and catapulting it into the top five from the 17th place in 2016.

“The Bhutan-Korea friendship offer resulted in increased arrivals from South Korea propelling it into the top 10 source markets for Bhutan in 2017,” the report states.

Meanwhile, maximum arrival was recorded during the months of April, May, June, September, October and December.

According to the report, while only about 1.9 percent of the international tourists travelled to Bhutan over land, about 48.3 percent of regional tourists’ mode of transportation was over land.

Festivals are a main draw for tourists

“Festivals remain one of the most visited attractions in the country,” the report states. The Thimphu tshechu (festival) and Paro tshechu continue to receive maximum visitations with 25 and 35.2 percent respectively.

 

Source: DrukAsia

“Local community festival also forms part of the tourist itinerary and attractions,” it states.

“These community festivals are developed and promoted to encourage community participation in tourism activities, tourism attractions diversification to promote lean tourism season and the regional spread of visitation.”

About 47.3 percent of international visitors visited the Rhododendron festival last year and 37.6 percent visited the Haa Summer festival.

On the other hand, about 11.8 percent visited the black-necked crane festival while only about 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent visited the nomads festival and Ura Matsutake festival.

Trekking is also another highlight for visitors to Bhutan

Of the 26 trek routes, Druk Path Trek and Bumdra Trek are popular with tourists with about 1,198 and 905 trekkers respectively recorded last year.

In terms of the spread of tourism impact, Paro (34.5 percent) has the highest percentage share of bed nights followed by Thimphu (26.1 percent) and Punakha (18 percent).

 

Source: DrukAsia

 

According to the report, tourists spent 6.6 days in Bhutan on a national average. “However, going by major source markets, the average length of stay measured in number of days, vary from country to country.”

The report states that Swiss visitors have stayed in Bhutan for almost 11 days on an average, which comprises the highest number.

French visitors followed with an average length of stay of 9.3 days while Dutch and German visitors have spent almost nine days in the country.

Some challenges still remains

“Despite the growth we still face the problem of seasonality and unbalanced regional spread,” the report states.

“As a destination with emphasis on sustainability at the core of its development agenda, it is important that appropriate interventions are put in place to further sustainable growth with emphasis on regional spread and in making Bhutan a year-round tourism destination.”

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.

 


Related Posts

Haa Develops Tourism Action Plan To Promote Its Rich Cultural...

Haa had the 6th highest visitor arrivals among the dzongkhags in the country, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor...

Jul 26, 2018 08:23

Heading To Haa, Bhutan For The Summer Festival? Here Are Some...

Savour the most delectable cuisine from the province of Haa in Bhutan.

Jul 13, 2018 14:54

Rare Masked Dances - One Of The Unique Features Of The Kholong...

“Other dances like the Pha-dong chham, Sangling Ngachham, and Terchham among others are not performed in any part of the...

Jul 03, 2018 14:44

Thimphu Tschechu 2017 - A Visual Feast

Tschechu, meaning ‘tenth day’ also corresponds to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). This festival is a...

Oct 06, 2017 18:29

Dochula Tschechu – Truly Captivating!

What makes the Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival unique is that while the mask dances performed elsewhere in Bhutan are...

Nov 24, 2017 05:19

Pray to Conceive at the Chimi Lhakhang

For couples who longed to have children, miracles were said to have happened after they have received fertility...

Nov 08, 2017 08:44

Latest

News

EU Supports Capacity Building To Improve Bhutan’s Export Diversification

Bhutanese products selected for export and market diversification are ginger, turmeric, mushrooms and yak dairy.

Nov 07, 2019 23:58

Bhutan’s Drukair Spread Its Wings To East Timor Via Singapore

The charter operation between Singapore and Dili is slated for a period of one year, with two chartered flights every week.

Oct 31, 2019 23:28

Features

Global Happiness Alliance Aims To Spread Concept Of Gross National Happiness Worldwide

The alliance seeks to enhance the understanding of GNH as a concept and to spread it all around the world.

Nov 08, 2019 23:08

Zoedue – Fermented Cheese Made By The Brokpas Of Sakteng Sees Increasing Demand

Zoedue has become a lucrative business in Sakteng ever since motor-road accessibility improved.

Nov 05, 2019 23:48

Sports

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Tour Of The Dragon – Toughest One Day Bike Race Starts On 7 September In Bhutan

It takes sheer toil and stamina for the top riders to complete the 268 km race which finishes at the capital, Thimphu.

Sep 06, 2019 23:58

Business

Gakyed Gatoen - Festival of Happiness Seeks To Promote Bhutan’s Products

The idea of the festival was to enable tourists and Bhutanese to learn about the traditional cottage industry.

Nov 01, 2019 23:28

Cottage & Small Industries Flagship Programme Rolled Out In Bhutan, Set To Create More Jobs

The CSI sector was identified as one the flagship programme in view of its greater socio-economic roles in Bhutan.

Oct 11, 2019 15:38

Travel

4th Edition Of Laya’s Royal Highland Festival Saw More Tourists And Participants

The Royal Highland Festival helps to preserve the age-old traditions of the highlanders.

Oct 28, 2019 23:38

Enchanting Kingdom Of Bhutan Scooped Lonely Planet’s World’s Best Tourist Destination In 2020

According to Lonely Planet, more and more travellers are advocating green travel while many are aware of the negative impact of...

Oct 24, 2019 23:58

Lifestyle

Bhutanese Textiles To Be Exhibited In Paris Trade Fair 2020

The exhibition is an initiative of the EU-Bhutan Trade Support project.

Nov 10, 2019 12:48

Launch Of Karen Greenspan’s Footfalls From The Land Of Happiness: A journey Into The Dances Of Bhutan

The book delves into familiar subjects that are what continues to shape Bhutan’s image.

Oct 05, 2019 10:18

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!