Bhutan’s Tourism Flourishes: Surging Visitors and Charter Flights

In a resplendent surge of tourism, Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom renowned for its serene landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has witnessed a remarkable influx of visitors during the initial four months of 2024. The numbers paint a vivid picture of the kingdom’s allure, showcasing a staggering increase in arrivals compared to the preceding year.

According to recent data from the Department of Tourism, Bhutan welcomed a total of 41,394 visitors between January and April 2024. This figure starkly contrasts with the 26,465 arrivals recorded during the corresponding period in 2023, signifying a significant uptick in tourism.

April emerged as a standout month, with 16,391 tourists gracing Bhutan’s picturesque terrain this year compared to 13,769 in April 2023. Notably, this April marked the third busiest month since Bhutan reopened its borders post the Covid-19 pandemic in September 2022, underscoring the kingdom’s growing appeal as a travel destination.

The revenue collected from Sustainable Development Fees (SDF) during the first four months of 2024 amounted to a substantial USD 13 million, reflecting the economic benefits stemming from the surge in tourism.

Delving into the demographics of visitors, statistics reveal that 58 percent of arrivals originated from neighboring India, highlighting the enduring affinity between the two nations. The remaining 42 percent hailed from a diverse array of countries, including the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, France, Italy, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, and Canada, showcasing Bhutan’s global allure.

A spokesperson from the Department of Tourism noted the remarkable resurgence in certain markets, with arrivals from the United States, Singapore, and Germany nearly matching or surpassing pre-pandemic levels, indicating a promising trajectory for Bhutan’s tourism industry.

In tandem with the surge in visitors, reports from India indicate a burgeoning demand for travel to Bhutan, prompting the online travel agency MakeMyTrip to unveil an exclusive charter service between Mumbai and Bhutan. This initiative, part of MakeMyTrip’s holiday packages, underscores the kingdom’s escalating popularity among Indian travelers.

Bhutan’s allure on the MakeMyTrip platform is undeniable, ranking among the top five most-searched emerging destinations with a staggering year-on-year increase of over 200 percent.

The charter flights, operated by Drukair and Bhutan Airlines, will ferry travelers from Mumbai and Bengaluru to Paro, facilitating seamless access to Bhutan’s enchanting landscapes and cultural treasures. With 12 charter flights already booked, comprising five with Drukair and seven with Bhutan Airlines, the demand for travel to Bhutan from India is palpable, with each flight accommodating approximately 120 to 130 passengers from three tour companies.

Clarifying the data, the Department of Immigration confirmed that the statistics exclusively encompass tourists entering Bhutan, excluding those under other categories, thereby providing a comprehensive insight into the kingdom’s burgeoning tourism landscape.

As Bhutan’s tourism continues to thrive, fueled by its intrinsic charm and cultural vibrancy, the kingdom stands as a beacon of sustainable travel and cultural immersion, beckoning travelers from across the globe to embark on an unforgettable journey amidst the breathtaking vistas of the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

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