With the global downturn showing no signs of slowing down and countries like the US and Japan among the worst hit, Bhutan has seen its tourist arrivals drop by over 30 per cent in just under a year.
Last year, the number of tourists visiting Bhutan was 5,355 between January and March. For the same period this year, the number dwindled to 1,480.
"The average duration of nights spent, which was an average of 12 in the past, has come down to about seven-eight nights now," said Yangphel Tours and Treks director Karma Lotey.
This year, Yangphel has seen about 260 visitors, in comparison to last year's 12,000 visitors. Under pressure, tour operators say they may have to downsize their employees or shut down soon. Most tourists coming to Bhutan are from the US, followed by Europe and Japan.
Sakten Tours and Treks managing director Tshewang Rinzin said about 160 of his guests, scheduled to arrive for the spring season, have cancelled their visit. Many of its travel agents in US and Europe have also reduced previous bookings.
Manager of Bhutan Tourism Corporation Ltd., Dipendra Rai, said around 30 bookings got cancelled and only 250 tourists have visited till date.