Records a drop in regional tourists by more than 50 percent
While international tourist arrival recorded a growth of 14.1 percent last year, regional tourists visiting the country in terms of percentage decreased by more than 50 percent in 2017 from 2016.
A total of 183, 287 regional visitors visited Bhutan in 2017 and this was an increase of 24.9 percent as compared to 2016, which saw a total of 146,797 visitors. The percentage increase of regional tourist decreased in 2017 by more than 50%. Bhutan saw an increase of 50.43% in 2016 compared to 24.9% increase in 2017.
According to visitor arrival statistics 2017, Bhutan saw an increase of about 24.9 percent in regional arrivals in 2017 less than an increase of 50.43 percent recorded in the previous year.
With 254,704 tourists visiting the country in 2017, including 183,287 regional tourists, the overall growth is 21.5 percent from 2016. A total of 209,570 tourists visited the country in 2016.
Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) officials said that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation report states that the global tourism increase for 2017 was seven percent and for Bhutan’s 21.5 percent indicates the country is doing well.
In the last five years, Bhutan saw the highest growth in 2016 with 35 percent increase in total visitors.
Of the total 71,417 international arrivals, 62,272 were international leisure arrivals.
India remained the main market in 2017 making up 51.14 percent of the total leisure visitors followed by Bangladesh, Unites States, China and South Korea making up the other top five markets.
The number of Chinese visitors fell by 30.3 percent from the previous year, dropping to the fourth from the second top ten source markets for Bhutan in 2016. Visitors from South Korea increased by 484.3 percent, making it into the top five from the 17th place in 2016.
TCB officials attribute the increased arrivals from South Korea to the ‘Bhutan – Korea Friendship Offer.’ Bhutan received a total of 6,048 visitors from South Korea in 2017 compared to 1,035 in 2016.
Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, Germany and Malaysia together made up the top 10 markets.
Gross earnings from tourism reached USD 79.807M in 2017, which is an increase of 8.2 percent from 2016.
TCB officials said the gross earnings include Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), visa fees, tax deducted at source (TDS), and tour operator net amount which they have to pay for the services used.
The earnings from SDF increased by 10.26 percent last year to USD 22.361M from USD 20.28M in 2016. “This is direct government revenue, in addition to visa fees and other taxes,” the official said.