The Bhutanese tourism industry earned USD 47.68m from tourists last year, up by 32.52 percent from the previous year. Of this, The royalty generated for the country was USD 14.89m.
Tourism Council officials said these earnings do not include revenue from other sectors like airline, handicraft, and out-of-pocket spending.
Last year a total of 64,028 high-end tourists visited Bhutan. The figure includes 16,418 regional high ends and 1,728 regional tourists who came by land but stayed in more than three star hotels.
Officials said this is the highest recorded number of visitor arrivals in the country with a growth of 56.65 percent from 2010.
Bhutan also saw 36,805 regional tourists who entered the country by land and had did not stay in three star hotels and above.
High-end tourists are those who come by air and pay a minimum daily tariff of USD 250 during peak season and USD 200 during off-season. The daily tariff was raised from USD 165 during off-season to USD 200 a day and from USD 200 during peak season to USD 250. The peak seasons are March, April, May, September, October and November.
Tourism council’s spokes-person Damcho Rinzin said 10 percent of the tariff is assumed as agents’ commission and the rest has to be submitted to TCB for the endorsement of Bhutan tourist visa. “After the visa endorsement and tax deductions, USD 156.8 is returned to the agent for the tourist’s accommodation and food at least in a three star hotel, treks and tours and guide’s charges,” he said.
There are eight five stars, seven four stars, 40 three stars, 54 two stars and 19 one star hotels in the country today.
About 35.01 percent of the tourists came in tour groups while 23.1 percent came with their group of friends. About 23.7 percent came as couples, 9.05 percent came alone and 7 percent came as a family.
Last year, Bhutan saw 36,765 international tourist arrivals, 10,129 international business arrivals, 5,866 regional high-end tourist arrivals, 10,552 regional high-end business arrivals and 716 other international arrivals. A majority of the dollars paying tourists in descending order are from the United States of America, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Germany, Thailand, Australia, France, Singapore and the least from Canada.
The most visited places, and most popular activities were Thimphu, Paro, Dochula, Punakha, visiting temples, visiting Dzongs and trekking.
Damcho Rinzin said there are just enough guides today. An induction course for 300 new guides began yesterday. “We currently have 1,390 cultural guides who also take up trekking and about five of them are community based local guides,” he added. “We have few multi lingual guides.”
The council’s target for this year is to bring in 100,000 high-end tourists.