Bhutan Received 71,417 International Visitors In 2017; Singapore, USA And Japan In Top 10 List
In 2017, Bhutan received 71,417 international visitors and the revenue earned was USD 79m, the highest arrival and revenue since 2012.
By Tshering Dorji Kuensel
Bhutan received 37,994 international tourists as of September 2018, generating a revenue of USD 48.7m. This is according to the statistical bulletin of the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA).
Last year, the country received 71,417 international visitors and the revenue earned was USD 79m, the highest arrival and revenue since 2012.
According to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2017, the country also recorded the highest - 62,272 international leisure visitors last year.
2017 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.
A statistical breakdown of where the international tourists come from
As per the tourism monitor report, more than half of the international tourists (54.7 percent) were from 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 the USA, Australia, Germany, Japan, UK, Singapore, China and Thailand held the top 10 lists over the past one decade.
Bhutan’s fascinating and colourful tshechus (festivals), mainly the Paro and Thimphu tshechus, are the core attractions.
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 the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF). The remaining USD 53.4m went to the tour operators.
The former government of Bhutan tried to boost the tourism sector
Tourism is high on the agenda of all political parties. The former government initiated a tourism levy exemption bill towards the end 2017, allowing a royalty waiver of USD 65 a day per tourist visiting the six eastern dzongkhags of Bhutan.
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 in Bhutan.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the new Bhutan Times.