That is an increase of around 7% in gross earning as compared to 2017, attributed to the slight increase in tourist number arrivals and increase in the length of stay
The gross earnings from tourist arrivals last year were estimated to be US$ 85.41mn, an increase of around 7% compared to 2017.
The tourism sector contributed revenue of more than US$ 79.807mn in 2017, US$ 22mn in 2016 and more than US$ 20mn in 2015.
According to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2018 that was released yesterday, the total tourism receipt from international leisure segment was US$ 85.41mn, out of which US$ 26.29mn was direct revenue for the government through Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), visa fees and 2% TDS.
The gross earnings include – Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), visa fees, Tax Deducted at Source (TDS), and tour operator net amount which they will have to pay for the services used.
Meanwhile, the total SDF earned was US$ 22.36mn in 2017 and US$ 20.28mn in 2016. There was an increase of 10.26% in 2018. This is direct government revenue, in addition to visa fees and other taxes.
Bhutan received a total of 274,097 visitor arrivals in 2018, which is an increase of 7.61% over 2017.
In terms of tourist arrivals, there was a slight increase in the total number of international tourist arrivals from 71,417 in 2017 to 71,807 in 2018.
However, there was a drastic increase in regional tourist arrivals from 183,287 in 2017 to 202,290 in 2018, an increase by 19,003 arrivals.
Meanwhile, a majority of international arrivals to Bhutan used air as their mode of transport to enter and exit Bhutan while majority of regional arrivals used land.
Further, 87.81% of the total visitors visited Bhutan for leisure or holiday purpose. India continues to be our main source market in terms of visitor arrivals.
For the international segment, the United States of America, China, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and Germany, continue to be our main markets.
The arrivals from the USA recorded 14.54% growth, China with 7.12%, UK 10.44%, Germany 15.22%, Malaysia 6.22%, and Australia with 21.79% increase over 2017 arrivals. The most significant growth was recorded for Vietnam with 37.81%.
However, arrivals from Singapore, Thailand and Japan recorded negative growths in 2018.
According to the report, festivals remain one of most visited attractions in the country with Thimphu and Paro Tshechus receiving maximum visitations with 20% and 32% respectively. A majority of the visitors to Bhutan has undertaken some form of cultural activity with other nature based and recreational activities also being undertaken.
The report also states that tourists spent 6.63 nights in Bhutan on an average. Swiss visitors stayed almost 11 nights on an average, which comprises the highest followed by French visitors with an average length of stay of 9.39 nights. Dutch and German visitors spent an equal number of nights.
According to the report, there is a total of 271 TCB certified tourist accommodation facilities in the country comprising 136 star hotels (3, 4 and 5 star accommodation) and 135 Village Home Stays with 4,216 rooms and 7,977 beds. Further, there are over 2,300 tour operators and over 1,500 guides in the country.
Pic courtesy: Keys to Bhutan
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu