Spotlight on the East and South

Nu 6.35M churned out of Tourist Insurance

Mandatory requirement of travel insurance for tourists visiting Bhutan was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to cover unforeseen emergencies including medical expenses relating to the pandemic

The total premium collected from Tourist Insurance was Nu 6.35 million (M) for the period from January 2023 to March 2024, according to the department of tourism (DoT).

The travel insurance was collected by either the local or international travel agency, Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited (RICBL) or Bhutan Insurance Limited (BIL).

The revenue generated from the travel insurance is being used to cover expenses for the unforeseen circumstances encountered by guests, according to the department.

However, the mandatory requirement of travel insurance was withdrawn for visa processing to facilitate seamless travel for guests.

An official from DoT said, “It is to enhance the experience of visitors to Bhutan by streamlining the travel procedures, making it easier for visitors to embark on their journey to experience the unique culture and beautiful landscape of Bhutan.”

In addition, the official said that it is recommended for tourists to possess travel insurance as a precaution in case of unlikely emergencies associated with any international traveler.

Meanwhile, the mandatory requirement of travel insurance for tourists visiting Bhutan was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic to cover unforeseen emergencies including medical expenses relating to the pandemic.

Attributing on the refund policy in place for visitors who have paid for travel insurance but did not use it during their trip to Bhutan, the department shared that there is no refund policy in place which is standard practice for all travel insurance plans.

According to the department the decision to withdraw mandatory travel insurance has been very well received by travelers.

Meanwhile, more than 41,000 guests arrived in Bhutan between the months of January to April 2024.

According to the department, Bhutan welcomed 41,394 guests between January and April this year, an increase by 14,929 guests as compared to 26,465 arrivals during the same period in 2023.

The department stated that the month of April this year recorded 16,391 guests, compared with 13,769 in April 2023. “This marks the third busiest month since reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2022.”

The estimated Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) revenue collected between January to April 2024 is around USD 13M and the breakdown of total visitor arrivals in 2024 shows that 58% originated from India, with the remaining 42% of guests sourced from the US, China, the UK, Germany, Singapore, France, Italy, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, and Canada.

Some markets have almost reached or exceeded arrival numbers for the same period in 2019, including the markets of the USA, Singapore and Germany, according to the department.

Meanwhile, Bhutan’s Department of Immigration stated that the data mentioned above includes only guests entering Bhutan as tourists, and not those in any other category.

By Nidup Lhamo, Thimphu