Maximum regional tourist arrivals in May last year
In the last five years, the maximum number of regional tourists visited the country in May last year at a record 23,694, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2016.
The report states that the total number of regional tourists visiting last year stood at 146, 797 of which 114,301 were Indians and 7,753 from Bangladesh.
Regional visitors constituted 70% of all arrivals to Bhutan of which 69% arrived over land. More than 20% of tourists visited in May while February saw the least with 3,379.
However, in case of tourists from Bangladesh, the highest number of visitations occurred during July and the lowest in June.
The majority of visitors from the region was from India with 98% followed by Bangladesh with 1.5%. Visitors from Maldives comprised only 0.4%.
Regional tourists were mostly male comprising more than 64% of the total. More than 50% of regional tourists fell within the age range of 22-45 years.
Around 68% of the visitors came through package tours while 31% traveled on their own. Around 24% of the regional respondent arrivals availed packages offered by Bhutanese tour operators
Almost 44% of the regional visitor arrivals in Bhutan came with their family members; while very less percentage of total visitors came with business associates or group tours.
Thimphu dzongkhag received the highest number of regional tourists with 79% of total visitor arrivals. Paro and Punakha received the next higher proportions with 66% and 42% respectively.
Around 83% of them came for leisure travel while the rest came for official, business or other reasons.
More than half the regional tourists cited culture and tradition as purpose of visit while 24% cited nature and ecological diversity as the main source of attraction.
Activities related to culture and tradition like local festivals and sightseeing were the major engagements for 74% of the regional visitors. Nature related activities like trekking, rafting, botanical tours and birding was second major engagement for almost 16% of the tourists. Altogether, nature and culture-related activities were the main activities undertaken by 90% of them.
On average, regional tourists spent Nu 5,350 besides normal expenditure covered by the package tours. Major out-of-pocket spending was on food, transport, accommodation and shopping.
The use of transportation provided by the travel agent was highest with 46% while use of taxis was close to 23% and renting a car accounted for 18%.
Around 52% stayed in non-star-rated hotel while 38% stayed in star-rated hotels. Around 7% of them stayed in lodges. Minimal numbers stayed in home-stays, camps and guesthouses
The majority of regional arrivals entered Bhutan via road entry points which constitute 64.9% with Phuentsholing being the main entry point. Another 34.8% of them came via Paro international airport. Though minimal, some also entered the country via border towns like Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar.
Similar to entry points, Phuentsholing was the major exit route for 77% of the regional tourists while only 23% of them exited through air transport in Paro.
Regional tourists comprise visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives.