Tourism in Bhutan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Passengers disembarking from Druk Air's Airbus A319 at Paro Airport

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, 287 tourists visited Bhutan. The number of tourists visiting Bhutan increased to 2,850 in 1992, and rose dramatically to 7,158 in 1999.[1] By the late 1980s tourism contributed over US$2 million in annual revenue.

Despite being open to foreigners, the Bhutanese government is acutely aware of the environmental impact tourists can have on Bhutan's unique and virtually unspoiled landscape and culture. Accordingly, they have restricted the level of tourist activity from the start, preferring higher-quality tourism. Until 1991, the Bhutan Tourism Corporation (BTC), a quasi-autonomous and self-financing body, implemented the government's tourism policy.[1] 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.[1] All tourists (group or individual) must travel on a planned, prepaid, guided package-tour or custom-designed travel-program. Most foreigners cannot travel independently in the kingdom. The arrangements must be made through an officially approved tour operator, either directly or through an overseas agent.

The most important centres for tourism are in Bhutan's capital, Thimphu, and in the western city of Paro, near India. Taktshang, a cliff-side monastery (called the "Tiger's Nest" in English) overlooking the Paro Valley, is one of the country's 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 as he battled the demons that inhabited this valley, in order to spread Buddhism. The temple has been standing for well over a thousand years, yet has suffered two fires in which the damage has been repaired. Druk Air used to be[when?] the only airline operating flights in Bhutan, however as of 2012 the country is serviced by Bhutan Airlines as well.[2][failed verification]

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

Countries with huge potential visitors include the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Germany, Taiwan, and Canada.[citation needed]

Arrivals by country[edit]

Most visitors arriving to Bhutan on a short term basis were from the following countries of nationality:[3][4][5] 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'.[6]

Rank Country 2013 2015 2016
1  India 11,550 25,380 56,210
2  Bangladesh 7,997 12,100 15,202
3  Maldives 4,000 7,000 10,000
4  China 4,000 7,399 7,298
5  United States 6,997 7,137 7,292
6  Japan 4,035 2,437 4,833
7  Thailand 3,527 3,778 4,177
8  United Kingdom 2,309 2,958 3,124
9  Singapore 2,051 2,587 3,015
10  Germany 2,770 2,498 2,297
11  Malaysia 2,054 1,546 1,967
12  Australia 2,062 1,833 1,818
13  France 1,572 1,563 1,501

UNESCO Tentative List of Bhutan[edit]

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.[7]

Site Image Location Proposed criteria Year Listed as Tentative Site Description Refs
Ancient Ruin of Drukgyel Dzong Drukgyel Dzong.jpg Paro District Cultural 2012 The site includes the ruins of a fortress-Buddhist monastery built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649. In 2016, the Bhutanese government announced that the monastery will be rebuilt to its former glory.[8] [9]
Dzongs: the centre of temporal and religious authorities (Punakha Dzong, Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, Paro Dzong, Trongsa Dzong and Dagana Dzong) PunakhaDzongInSpring.jpg Wangdue Phodrang Dzong.jpg Rinpung Dzong, Bhutan 01.jpg TrongsaDzong.jpg Tashigang Dzong 111120.jpg Multiple Cultural 2012 The site includes five dzongs significant to Bhutanese history, namely, Punakha Dzong, Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, Paro Dzong, Trongsa Dzong and Dagana Dzong. [10]
Sacred Sites associated with Phajo Drugom Zhigpo and his descendants Taktshang edit.jpg Multiple Cultural 2012 The site includes Tsedong Phug, Gawa Phug, Langthang Phug, Sengye Phug, Gom Drak, Thukje Drak, Tsechu Drak, Dechen Drak, Taktsang Sengye Samdrub Dzong, Tago Choying Dzong, Lingzhi Jagoe Dzong and Yangtse Thubo Dzong. [11]
Tamzhing Monastery Tam ext1.jpg Bumthang District Cultural 2012 The site is the most important Nyingma gompa in Bhutan. [12]
Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) Golden Langur.jpg Multiple districts Natural 2012 The site is the oldest national park in Bhutan. [13]
Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP) Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan.JPG Multiple districts Natural 2012 The site is the second largest national park in Bhutan. [14]
Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary Grus nigricollis -Bronx Zoo-8-3c.jpg Trashiyangtse District Cultural 2012 The site is an important bird area in the Himalayas. [15]
Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) Korean magpie in Daejeon (side profile).jpg Multiple districts Cultural 2012 The site was established to protect a mythical race known as migoi, as well as the wildlife within the site. [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Dorji, Tandi. "Sustainability of Tourism in Bhutan" (PDF). Digital Himalaya. Retrieved August 10, 2008.
  2. ^ Ionides, Nicholas (9 April 2008). "Bhutan's Druk Air looks to expand". Airline Business. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^

Further media[edit]

External links[edit]