Chinese tourists constituted about 19 percent of total arrivals last year

Tourism: Chinese tourists dominated international tourist arrivals last year, surpassing Thai tourists who topped arrivals in 2014.

Chinese tourists constituted about 19 percent of the total international arrivals, which stood at 48,800, according to the Bhutan tourism monitor. A total of 155,121 tourists visited the country in 2015.

The tourism monitor stated that Chinese tourists have become one of the most important source markets for Bhutan over the last few years. If not for the Bhutan-Thailand friendship offer in 2014, China would have emerged as the top market in 2014. Tourists from the USA usually dominate the international arrivals segment.

Chinese tourist arrivals grew by about 16 percent last year with 9,399 visitors from 8,111 in 2014. The tourism monitor stated that Chinese visitors flew in throughout the year with about 33 percent visiting between March and May, and about 31 percent between September and November.

A majority of the Chinese tourists preferred cultural sightseeing and related activities. Similarly, females dominated visits at about 66 percent.

“Over the last five years, Chinese tourists have shown continuous increase in arrivals,” states the tourism monitor.

China made it to the top five major markets for the first time in 2010, with an increase of about 30 percent in arrivals from 2009. Since then the number of Chinese tourists visiting Bhutan is on the rise. Americans dominated the international arrivals segment with 6,927 visitors until 2013. During the same year Chinese tourists arrivals beat the Japanese to emerge as the second top source market with 4,764 visitors. Thais followed next with 3,494 visitors, while 2,753 German visitors were recorded in the same year.

The country usually records the highest arrivals from the US, followed by Japan.

The tourism monitor 2015 states that the US, Thailand, UK, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Australia, France and Malaysia followed next as the top source markets. The trend is such that a majority of the tourists from the top source markets visited Bhutan for spiritual and wellness tourism.

Among the top 10 source markets, more female tourists visited Bhutan as compared to males. Similarly, most visitors from European and American regions were elderly, the tourism monitor stated.

With 7,137 American visitors in 2015, it constituted about 15 percent of the total arrivals. However, it is a drop of about two percent from the previous years where 7,291 Americans visited, making it to the third top source market. The tourism monitor states that Americans visited throughout the year, although a majority preferred the spring and autumn seasons.

As the third top source market for Bhutan, 3,778 Thai tourists visited in 2015, a drastic decline by about 69 percent from the previous year when Thailand emerged as the top source market.

Tour operators attribute the drop to the Bhutan-Thailand friendship offer. They said most agents in Thailand still expected the same rate offered during the offer period leading to drastic drop in rates.

Bhutan recorded 2,958 British visitors, an increase of about 10 percent from 2014, when it was ranked sixth. The tourism monitor states that among the Asian countries, Singapore emerged as the third highest Asian source country, constituting about five percent of the total arrivals followed by 2,587 Singaporeans and 1,546 Malaysians. For many years, Japan was one of the most important Asian markets. In 2015, it was the fourth highest Asian country to visit Bhutan, after China, Thailand and Singapore. A total of 2,437 Japanese visited Bhutan last year

As the sixth top source market, 2,498 Germans visited Bhutan in 2015. Australians constituted about four percent of the total arrivals in 2015 with 1,833 tourists followed by 1,563 French tourists.

The tourism monitor states that among the top 10 source countries, majority of Americans visited Bhutan for adventure tourism, followed by British and Chinese. Similarly, majority of Chinese visited Bhutan for spiritual and wellness tourism, followed by Malaysians. Americans dominated the trekking category, followed by the British.

Kinga Dema