ⓘ Tourism in Bhutan

Tourism in Bhutan

ⓘ Tourism in Bhutan

Tourism in Bhutan began in 1974, when the Government of Bhutan, in an effort to raise revenue and to promote Bhutanese unique culture and traditions to the outside world, opened its isolated country to foreigners. In 1974 a total of 287 tourists visited the Kingdom of Bhutan. The number of tourists visiting Bhutan increased to 2.850 in 1992, and rose dramatically to 7.158 in 1999. By the late 1980s tourism contributed over US million in annual revenue.

Though open to foreigners, the Bhutanese government is acutely aware of the environmental impact tourists can have on Bhutans unique and virtually unspoiled landscape and culture. Accordingly, they have restricted the level of tourist activity from the start, preferring higher-quality tourism. Initially, this policy was known as "high value, low volume" tourism. It was renamed in 1999 as "high value, low impact", "a subtle but significant shift" indicating that the government was prepared to welcome more tourists, although "cultural and environmental" values should be preserved. In 2005 a document called "Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy" "placed greater emphasis on increasing tourist numbers by using the countrys culture and environment to promote Bhutan as an exotic niche destination attractive to wealthy tourists".

Until 1991 the Bhutan Tourism Corporation BTC, a quasi-autonomous and self-financing body, implemented the governments tourism policy. The Bhutanese government, however, privatised the Corporation in October 1991, facilitating private-sector investment and activity. As a result, as of 2018 over 75 licensed tourist companies operate in the country. All tourists group or individual must travel on a planned, prepaid, guided package-tour or according to a custom-designed travel-program. Most foreigners cannot travel independently in the kingdom. Potential tourists must make arrangements through an officially approved tour operator, either directly or through an overseas agent.

The most important centres for tourism are in Bhutans capital, Thimphu, and in the western city of Paro, near India. Taktshang, a cliff-side monastery called the "Tigers Nest" in English overlooking the Paro Valley, is one of the countrys attractions. This temple is incredibly sacred to Buddhists. Housed inside the temple is a cave in which the Buddhist Deity who brought Buddhism to Bhutan meditated for 90 days, battling the demons that inhabited this valley, in order to spread Buddhism. The temple has been standing for well over a thousand years; it has suffered two fires, but the damage has been repaired. Druk Air used to be the only airline operating flights in Bhutan, however as of 2012 the country is serviced by Bhutan Airlines as well.

Potential visitors to Bhutan obtain visas through a Bhutanese embassy or consulate in their home country.


1. Arrivals by Country

Most visitors arriving to Bhutan on a short term basis were from the following countries of nationality: In 2017, the country saw its highest tourist arrival yet at more than 250.000 people. The growth was boosted by the Asia-Pacific market, notably from India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Australia, Japan, China, Singapore, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Maldives, and South Korea. Western markets also increased, notably from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France. Majority of tourists that came from China were also classified as Tibetan refugees.


2. UNESCO Tentative List of Bhutan

In 2012, Bhutan formally listed its tentative sites to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. It was the first time Bhutan listed its sites to the organization for future inclusion. Eights sites were listed, located in various properties throughout the country.


3. Further media

  • "Part 4.Thimphu Tsechu, the Kingdoms Festival".
  • "Part 1.Road to Merak, an Unchartered Land".
  • "Part 2.Golden Langurs and Black Yaks".
  • "Part 3.The Legend of Tigers Nest Monastery".
  • "Bhutan, In Search of a Celestial Kingdom." Themes Around the World 세계테마기행. Educational Broadcasting System EBS English. Original airdate March 10, 2014, uploaded to YouTube February 18, 2016.

TCB approved Tour Plan==References==