The country received 37,994 international tourists as of September this year generating revenue of USD 48.7M.

This is according to the statistical bulletin of the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA).

Last year, the country has received 71,417 international visitors and the revenue earned was USD 79M, the highest arrival and revenue since 2012.

According to Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2017, Bhutan also recorded the highest, 62,272 international leisure visitors last year.

Last year also saw a total of 254,704 arrivals to Bhutan with a growth of 21.5 percent compared with that of 2016. However, 183,287 are regional tourists. The international arrivals recorded a growth of 14.1 percent and regional arrivals 24.9 percent.

As per the tourism monitor report, more than half the international tourists (54.7 percent) were from the Asia-Pacific, followed by Europe (24.8 percent) and North America (18 percent). Visitors from China, Thailand and Japan recorded negative growth of nearly 40 percent in 2017.

Countries like USA, Australia, Germany, Japan, UK, Singapore, China, and Thailand remained held on to the top 10 list over the past one decade.

Festivals, mainly Paro and Thimphu Tshechus, remain the main attractions in the country.

In 2017, the total tourism receipt from the international leisure segment generated USD 79.807M out of which USD 22.36M was direct revenue for the government through Sustainable Development Fee (SDF). The remaining USD 53.4M went to the tour operators.

Tourism is high on the agenda of all political parties. The former government initiated tourism levy exemption bill toward the end 2017, allowing a royalty waiver of USD 65 a day per tourist visiting the six eastern dzongkhags.

As only about three percent of international arrivals visited five of the six eastern dzongkhags last year, the impact of the waiver is yet to be seen.

Going by the tourism monitor report, tourists, both international and regional, spent more on entertainment, beverages, communication, and shopping.

Tshering Dorji