A total of 274,097 tourists visited Bhutan last year recording a growth of 7.61 percent over 2017, according to the latest Bhutan Tourism Monitor.

Revenue from tourism has also increased by about seven percent or USD 5.6M (million) compared to 2017.

Of the total tourism receipt from international leisure segment of USD 85.41 million, USD 26.29 million was direct revenue for the government through Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), Visa fees and two percent TDS (tax deducted at source).

However, despite the growth, TCB states that the country still faces a problem of seasonality and unbalanced regional spread.

“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 emphasis on regional spread and to make Bhutan a year-round tourism destination,” it states.

Of the total arrivals, 71,807 were international arrivals. A majority of them entered and exited Bhutan via air while 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 grew by 10.37 percent.

About 87.81 percent of the total visitors visited Bhutan for leisure or holiday and most arrivals was recorded in May and October with 14.50 and 13.70 percent of the total arrivals.

While India continues to be the main source of market for regional arrivals with 94.83 percent of the total arrivals, America, China, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and Germany continues to remain the major international source markets.

The report states that arrivals from USA recorded 14.54 percent growth, China 7.12 percent, UK- 10.44 percent, Germany 15.22 percent, Malaysia 6.22 percent, and Australia 21.79 percent increase over 2017 arrivals.

While the most significant growth was recorded for Vietnam ar 37.81 percent, visitors from Singapore (-5.89 percent), Thailand (-3.98 percent) and Japan (-2.55 percent) decreased in 2018.

In terms of global segmentation of source markets, 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 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.

Festivals remain one of the most visited attractions in the country with Thimphu and Paro Tshechus receiving maximum visitations with 20 and 32 percent.

Most visitors (86.41 percent) to Bhutan have undertaken some form of cultural activity with 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, diversification of tourism products and destinations, including authenticity, contacts with local communities and learning about culture, tradition and flora and fauna.

In terms of length of stay, on an average a tourist spends 6.63 nights in Bhutan.

According to the report, Swiss visitors have stayed 11 nights on an average followed by 9.39 nights by French visitors. Dutch and German visitors have spent an equal number of nights (8.86). For regional arrivals, the average length of stay is 5 nights.

Dechen Tshomo