Dechen Dolkar

Bhutan received 15,734 tourists in October which is a 10 percent increase of the projected figures of the tourism department.

According to the Department of Tourism (DoT), in October, most tourists were from India with 9,574 tourists, 1,687 were from the United States, 609 from the United Kingdom, Germany with 349, Australia with 281,China with 269, Switzerland with 231 guests, Singapore with 227, and Malaysia with 193 tourists.

DoT DG Dorji Dhradhul said that October was a busy month in terms of tourist arrivals, particularly guests from the US and Europe.

He said that the trendline is positive and the department believes that it will be a strong year ahead for tourism. Most of the international guest bookings for October were made before the SDF 100 revision took effect, underscoring the enduring allure of Bhutan as a destination.

“We anticipate good visitor arrival numbers over the next few months, allowing time for the new tourism incentives to be marketed and sold,” he said.

From September 23, 2022, to October 29, this year, a total of 104,304 tourists arrived.

Meanwhile, the number of tourists who visited Bhutan from January to October 29, 2023, stands at 83,407.

Of 104,304 total arrivals since September 23, 2022, 70,274 were Indian nationals, and 34,030 were other international tourists. Around 11,515 paid the old SDF rate of USD 65, and 22,515 paid the new SDF rate of USD 200 and 100.

According to the DoT, in terms of visitor arrivals, October 2023 ranked as the second-highest month this year, only surpassed by May, which saw 16,609 arrivals.

The actual number of foreign guests in October reached 6,160, almost doubling the projected count.

“Indian arrival numbers to Bhutan remain flatter than expected. Airline prices and connectivity remain the key industry concerns,” it states.

DoT projected 98,000 guests to visit Bhutan between January to December 2023 and the arrival figures are on track to meet the target.

The Department of Immigration has confirmed that the data includes only guests entering Bhutan as tourists, and not those in other categories.

The department earned USD 25 million in visa fees and sustainable development fees (SDF) from September last year to date.