Tourist arrivals peak in 2016
Tourist arrivals peaked last year at 209,570 and a record 35% increase as compared to 16% in 2015, according to the recent annual report released by Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Though international arrivals grew only by 9%, the regional market shot up by 50%.
Indian arrivals top the 20 major international sources followed by Chinese, Bangladeshis and Americans.
The report reveals that of the total 176,654 leisure travelers to Bhutan in 2016, almost 65% were from India, 5% from China and 4% from Bangladesh and the USA.
Of the total, 84% were leisure arrivals, 5% for official work, 3% for business and 7% for other reasons.
The top 20 major international sources accounted for almost 90% of total international leisure arrivals in 2016.
The report also states that the high number of international arrivals during summer season could be attributed to the Bhutan-Japan friendship offer commemorating more than three decades of diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
More than half of international tourists (56.1%) were from the Asia/Pacific region followed by 26% from Europe, 16% from North America and rest from other regions. Most tourists traveled in group size of two individuals which accounted for 21%, while 8% were group size of one and four and was followed by group size of three persons (6%).
More than 60% of the tourists were women. The age range of visitors was mostly between 26 -55 years (53%), followed by 12% between 56 – 60 years and 29% were above 60 years of age.
Paro and Thimphu had almost equal number of visitors, amounting to 27% and 26% respectively, followed by Punakha with 22%. The three Dzongkhags together amounts to more than 76% of the total bed nights in 2016.
According to the report, gross earnings in 2016 were USD 73.74mn, which is an increase of 1% from the previous year. The total gross earnings constitute USD 20.28mn of royalty or sustainable development fee contributions to the Royal Government of Bhutan. Visa fees from tourists constituted about USD 2.15mn.