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Over half of tourists to Bhutan in 2013 were Indians

Thimphu : Over half of the tourists to Bhutan in 2013 were Indians, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has said.

Presenting a report on the state of the nation in parliament Thursday, Tobgay said 116,200 tourists visited Bhutan last year. Of them, around 63,500 tourists were from India.

The report said tourism contributed Nu 16.2 billion (Rs.16.2 billion) to the economy, and Nu 1.1 billion (Rs.1.1 billion) to government revenue.

“Besides implementing plans to attract larger numbers of tourists, the government will make sure that all roadside amenities required for tourists are developed in the coming year,” Tobgay was quoted as saying by the country’s national newspaper Kuensel.

Tobgay, who had earlier described the Gross National Happiness (GNH) indicator introduced by the previous government as a “distraction”, masking problems of corruption and low living standards in the country, presented some aspects of the report through the four pillars of the GNH.

The pillars of the GNH are sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, conservation of the environment, preservation and promotion of culture and good governance.

Despite growing in the last 40 years, Bhutan’s economy at Nu 104 billion (Rs.104 billion) is amongst the smallest economies in the world, ranked 166 out of 190 countries by the World Bank, the prime minister said.

“Foreign currency reserve is USD 895 million, which is not too bad, but, as we saw three years ago, we’re vulnerable to facing rupee deficit.”

Trade deficit, Tobgay reported, stood at almost 20 percent of GDP, and current account deficit is 30 percent. “Inflation is very high at eight percent, although it has dropped from 11.3 percent at 2013 end.”