Bhutan is presently seeing a surge in tourism levels. As per a report by The Bhutan Live, more than 52,000 tourists have visited the country in the past eight months. According to the country’s Tourism Department, it represents a promising development in the revival of the tourism sector. A sizable portion of the foreign visitors paid the new Sustainable Development Fee or SDF.

Reportedly, over 32,500 of the foreign visitors were Indians, who paid Bhutanese Ngultrum (Nu) 1,200 per night. Over 19,000 international tourists visited Bhutan after the announcement of the SDF. Going by the latest data, the top 10 countries from which tourists arrived in Bhutan in the previous eight months included India, the United States, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. The tourism department has said that visitors who travelled for business purposes are not included in this report.

Dorji Dhradhul, Director General of the Department of Tourism, told the publication that “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 tourists paying the new SDF seems to be a little bit higher than the old SDF rate."

Dhradhul added in the report that service providers had at first expressed worries following the SDF’s modification to USD 200 per night. However, the Tourism Department stated that the number of visitors is higher than expected given the current trend. The official firmly believes that Bhutan’s tourism industry is recovering quite well, especially when compared to other nations in the area. He cites that in April, tourist arrivals exceeded their projections by around 45 percent.

As per the latest data from the tourism department, in April, more than 13,700 tourists visited Bhutan, an increase of around 87 percent from March’s total of over 7,000 visitors. The Department anticipates that Bhutan will welcome approximately 98,000 visitors in 2023 and is optimistic about this trend. An official from the Guide Association of Bhutan said that this rise in the number of tourists was a good trend.

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