Tourists Number Records Growth Of 7.61% : Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2018
According to the report, international leisure arrivals grew by 1.76 percent to 63,367.
By Dechen Tshomo | Kuensel
According to the latest report by the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2018, a total of 274,097 tourists visited Bhutan last year, recording a growth of 7.61 percent over 2017.
Revenue from tourism has also increased by about seven percent or USD 5.6 million compared to 2017.
Of the total tourism revenue of USD 85.41 million, received from the international leisure segment, the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), Visa fees and the two percent TDS (tax deducted at source), make up the direct revenue of USD 26.29 million for the government.
However, despite the growth, the Tourism Council of Bhutan states that the country still faces the problem of seasonality and unbalanced regional spread.
A Masked Dance performed during a tshechu (festival) in Bhutan.
Photo: Daphne Go/Druk Asia
“As a destination with an 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 an emphasis on regional spread and to make Bhutan a year-round tourism destination,” it states.
Statistical breakdown of tourist arrivals in 2018
Of the total arrivals, 71,807 were international arrivals. A majority of them entered and exited Bhutan via air while the majority of regional arrivals used land as their mode of transport.
According to the report, international leisure arrivals grew by 1.76 percent to 63,367 while arrivals from the regional market (India, Bangladesh and The Maldives) grew by 10.37 percent.
Photo: Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2018
About 87.81 percent of the total visitors visited Bhutan for leisure or holiday and most arrivals was recorded in May and October which make up 14.50 and 13.70 percent of the total arrivals.
While India continues to be the main source of market for regional arrivals which make up 94.83 percent of the total arrivals. Other countries such as the USA, China, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Germany continue to remain as the major source of international arrivals.
The report states that arrivals from USA recorded a 14.54 percent growth, China 7.12 percent, UK 10.44 percent, Germany 15.22 percent, Malaysia 6.22 percent, and Australia at 21.79 percent.
The most significant growth was recorded for Vietnam at 37.81 percent, whereas visitors from Singapore (-5.89 percent), Thailand (-3.98 percent) and Japan (-2.55 percent) decreased in 2018.
In terms of the global segmentation of source markets, the Asia-Pacific was the top region (46.89 percent) followed by close to one-quarter (29.71 percent) of the market share from Europe and America (22.27 percent). Visitors from the Middle-East, South-Asia and Africa comprise less than one percent.
According to the report, a majority of the source markets’ outbound tourists chose March, April, October and November to visit Bhutan.
Key attractions of Bhutan
Festivals (Tshechus) remain one of the most visited attractions in the country with the Thimphu and Paro Tshechus receiving the most visitations at 20 and 32 percent.
Graphic: Tourism Council of Bhutan
Most visitors (86.41 percent) to Bhutan have undertaken some form of cultural activities, followed by other nature-based and recreational activities.
The report states that the shift and sophistication in the demand and behaviour of tourists for meaningful travel experiences further emphasises the need for growth and diversification of tourism products and destinations.
Some key areas of attractions include: authentic experiences with local communities, learning about Bhutanese culture and tradition as well as to appreciate its flora and fauna.
According to the report, Swiss visitors have stayed 11 nights on average, followed by 9.39 nights by French visitors. Dutch and German visitors spent an equal number of nights (8.86). For regional arrivals, the average length of stay is 5 nights.
Overall, in terms of the length of stay, a tourist spends 6.63 nights in Bhutan on average.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.