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International Tourist arrivals 2013
After falling second for the first time in 2012 to the Japanese, the Americans were once again No 1.

Tourism: American tourists dominated international arrivals last year, surpassing Japanese tourists who topped arrivals in 2012 .

Of the 52,798 international tourists, who visited the country last year, the highest were Americans, with about 6,927 visitors, a tentative arrival list by nationality show.

After the US, the other top source markets were China with about 4,764 tourists, Japan with about 4,015 and about 3,494 Thai tourists.

Americans continued to dominate international tourist arrivals until 2011.However, in 2012, for the first time, it was Japanese tourists that topped the market.

Japanese tourists surpassing American tourists in 2012 was mainly attributed to Their Majesties' visit to Japan in 2011, which generated "enormous" publicity, followed by Tourism Council of Bhutan's (TCB) follow-up promotions in Japan.

Also, for the first time in four years, Chinese tourists surpassed Japanese tourists, emerging as the second top source market last year.

The country usually saw the highest arrivals from the US followed by Japan.In 2010, Germany saw an increase of about 42 percent in arrivals, overtaking the UK.

"During the same year, China represented a promising new market and was rated among the top five major markets for the first time with an increase of about 30 percent over 2009," the tourism monitor stated.

In 2011, China emerged as the third top source markets with 2,896 visitors, records with Tourism Councilshow. During the same year, Thailand stood fifth among the top source markets with 2,235 visitors.

While arrival figures from top source markets were important, the tourism monitor stated that measuring source markets based on duration of stay was a valuable indicator. "Yield and revenue are linked to the duration of stay," the monitor stated.

Despite the increase in arrivals from neighbouring Asian countries, Tourism Councilrecords indicated that tourists from US always visited for a longer period, contributing to higher revenue, followed by countries like the UK and Germany.

After dominating the top source market for a long time, the US dropped to the second in 2012, followed by Chinese, Thai and British tourists.That year, the country recorded 105,407 international and regional tourists.

"A record increase in the top Asian markets like Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia propelled the Asia/Pacific region to be the dominating market region in the world," the 2012 tourism monitor stated.

The increase in arrivals from neighbouring Asian countries, tour operators, said was an advantage for tourism industry, considering the effort towards promoting the country as a all year-round tourist destination.

A majority of Asians, tour operators said, travelled during summer months to escape the heat. "So that's when we have to package tours and market accordingly to attract Asian tourists and so far, our efforts have paid off," a tour operator said.

Last year, 116,224 international and regional tourists visited the country, an increase by about 10 percent or 10,810 tourists from the previous year.

Of the total arrivals, 44,267 were international or Dollar paying tourists, 8,531 under international business, while the rest 63,426 were regional tourists.

This article was contributed byKinga Dema, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, February 2014


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