Bhutan witnesses rise in foreign tourist arrivals

 Friday, May 19, 2023 


Bhutan has attracted over 52,000 tourists in the last eight months, according to The Bhutan Live. The Bhutanese Tourism Department highlighted the numbers as a promising trend in the resuscitation of the tourism industry.

According to the news source, among international tourists, those who paid the new sustainable development fee (SDF) outnumbered those who paid the previous cost.

Over 32,500 Indian tourists paid Nu 1,200 each night. According to The Bhutan Live report, of over 19,000 international tourists, a little more than half of them visited Bhutan under the new SDF. However, according to the Tourism Department, this statistic does not include people who came for official reasons.

Dorji Dhradhul, Director General of Department of Tourism, said, “In terms of the new SDF, we feel that it is now slowly picking up because when we started on September 23rd because of the enhanced SDF rate, our arrivals could be really impacted but now what we are seeing in the figures is that it’s picking up and as of today the total number of tourist paying the new SDF seems to be a little bit higher than the old SDF rate.”

According to Dhradhul, the modification of the SDF to USD 200 per night first caused alarm among service providers. However, given the present trend, the Tourism Department has stated that visitor arrivals have exceeded the department’s expectation, according to The Bhutan Live.

“As of today, we seriously believe that our tourism recovery is doing very well especially when compared to other countries in the region. For instance, the arrivals in April were about 45 per cent more than what we have forecasted,” Dorji Dhradhul said.

The Bhutan Guide Association has seen an upsurge in the number of tourists visiting Bhutan. According to the news source, Garab Dorji, Chairperson of the Bhutan Guide Association, noted that the number of tourists arriving in Bhutan has increased and that this is a “good trend.”

“As the Tourism Department has rightly said that the number of tourist arrival is more than the forecast that they had and the number of arrival of tourists especially from India has also shot up. We are having sometimes difficulty in allocating guides. This is a good trend,” Garab Dorji said as The Bhutan Live reported.

In the last eight months, the top 10 tourist arrivals in Bhutan have come from India, America, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, and other countries. More over 13,700 visitors came in Bhutan in April, representing an increase of almost 87% over March’s arrivals of over 7000.

Bhutan is expected to welcome around 98,000 visitors in 2023, according to the Department, and it is hoped that this objective would be met.

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