Tourist arrivals increased by 21.5 % in 2017 as regional tourism growth slows down

Bhutan received a total of 254,704 visitors in 2017, of which 71,417 are international arrivals and 183,287 regional arrivals. The overall growth in arrival is 21.5 % over 2016, according to the Visitor Arrival Statistics 2017.

Of the total 71,417 international arrivals, 62,272 were international leisure arrivals and 9,145 were official and business arrivals.

The international arrivals recorded a growth of 14.1 % in 2017 compared to only 9.10 % growth in 2016.

TCB said, “The Bhutan – Korea Friendship Offer resulted in increased arrivals from South Korea propelling it into the top 10 source markets for Bhutan in 2017. Bhutan received a total of 6,048 South Korean visitors in 2017 compared to only 1,035 in 2016”.

A total of 183,287 regional tourists visited Bhutan in 2017 and there was an increase of 24.9 % as compared to 2016 which saw a total of 146,797 regional tourists.

Importantly percentage increase of regional tourist decreased in 2017 by more than half. Bhutan saw an increase of 50.43 % in 2016 compared to 24.9 % increase in 2016.

Worried that its high value and low impact tourism is under threat Bhutan has been coming out with a number of soft policies and regulations like introducing entry fees at various locations.

In 2017, gross amount for tourism amounted to USD 79.807 million, an increase of 8.2 % compared to 2016. These gross earnings include Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), Tax Deducted at source (TDS), Visa Fees and Tour Operator Net Amount which they have to pay for services used.

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One comment

  1. Robin Smillie

    The numbers coming from the Tourism Council of Bhutan show that regional tourists make up 75% of all visitors, three out of every four. Regional tourism is threatening dollar paying tourism by sheer numbers, the trail to Taksang is shoulder to shoulder by late morning and dollar paying tourists are questioning, “Is this really the Last ShangriLa that I was promised?”

    High value low impact has worked for dollar paying tourism:

    1. The higher average age of DP visitors, the ones who can afford to come to Bhutan, are older and are, on average, seasoned world travelers who have visited other unique places and know how to respect culture, religion and environment.
    2. TCB exit questionaires have shown the DP visitors are higher educated and thus, again, less likely to disrespect culture, religion and environment.
    3. DP visitors usually come through Bhutanese tour companies that are more established and they tend to hire quality, more mature guides who teach their flock how to be respectful of culture, religion and environment.

    The common word here is, “respect.” Many–not all–of the local tourists that I have observed act as if they don’t understand this word.

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