The tourism industry is growing at a steady rate, with 116, 209 tourist arrivals in 2013, a record high for inbound visitor arrivals in the country. It is growth rate of 10.25% over the previous year.
The Bhutan Tourism Monitor Annual Report 2013 states, “Majority of 83.84% were tourist that visited the country solely for the purpose of holidaying and leisure. Some 10.67% were official visitors. Total regional arrivals were dominated by 68.89% of leisure visitors followed by a significant 13.34% who came to Bhutan to visit friends and family members, and another 11.26% visiting for business purposes.”
It also states that the gross earnings from international lesuire arrivals alone reached USD 63.49mn. Spending patterns from the regional segment may have contributed around USD 28mn in tourism receipts in the year 2013, without including receipt from airfares.
Paro and Thimphu recorded the maximum bed nights by dzongkhag wise. Maximum visitors arrived in the months of October, April, March, November and September, accounting for 65.44% of all international arrivals.
The report states, “Bhutan is mainly seen as a cultural destination. A majority of 72.0% were cultural visitors mainly visiting Bhutan for a cultural sightseeing tour. 13.0% mainly visited Bhutan specifically to witness at least festival and 8.0% were those who visited Bhutan mainly to experience trekking and multiday hiking. Paro and Thimphu Tshechu dominated festival arrivals and Drukpath trek and Jomolhari treks continue to be the most frequent trek routes.”
The tourist satisfactions index amongst international visitors in 2013 was at 74.23%.
65.80% regional visitors indicated leisure and holiday as the main reason for their visit to Bhutan. 8.89% were on a private business trips and another 8.6% arrived in the country for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition category. In 2013, there was a significant increase in visitors constituting 58.76% who were travelling as part of a packaged tour organized by travel operator. The remaining 41.24% were free independent travelers travelling on their own.
The report states that a majority (77.09%) of tourists preferred not to stay for more than 6 days. On an average, a regional visitor spends around INR 27,157.27 (not including airfare) for a trip to Bhutan. The tourism satisfaction index amongst regional visitor was 73.85% in 2013. Regional arrivals are those originating from India, Bangladesh and Maldives
International visitors suggested improvements in roads, restroom facilities, garbage management, and better hotels. The regional segment’s main concern was with online booking facilities for hotels and Drukair line, lack of adequate information on hotels and difficulty in finding hotels during peak periods.