Rituparna Chatterjee – Mumbai
Drukair, the flagship carrier of the Kingdom of Bhutan, is focusing on extending its connectivity to the South India market specifically Hyderabad and Bengaluru in the next few years. However, this plan is at a nascent stage. Speaking on this, Sonam Wangchuk, manager – marketing and commercial planning, Drukair Corporation stated, “We are looking at the possibility of adding connectivity to Hyderabad, Bengaluru. Furthermore, we are also planning to add one more Airbus to our fleet this year.” Presently, Drukair has three Airbus 319s and one ATR 42-500 and in India it offers its connectivity to Kolkata, Gaya, Bagdogra, Guwahati, Delhi along with a new connectivity being officially launched to Mumbai in February, 2014.
The new route between Paro International Airport and Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport will commence operations from May 1, 2014. The three hour flight will operate twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays. “We have great expectations from this new connectivity. Mumbai is a hub for the well-travelled and this connectivity can lead to international travellers coming to Mumbai and then going to Bhutan. Through this connectivity, we are also tapping the surrounding markets like Gujarat, Rajasthan. We are also interested in tapping the South India market,” commented Damcho Rinzin, marketing and promotion division, Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Bhutan witnessed 10 to 15 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in 2013 from 2012. In 2013, Bhutan witnessed 1,16,224 tourist arrivals within which 45-50 per cent were Indians and the remaining were from Dhaka, Maldives and other Asian countries. In 2014, the tourism council is expecting 10 to 16 per cent growth. Presently, the average night stay in Bhutan is three to five nights for Indian travellers and seven to eight nights for international travellers. “We are also looking at increasing the average night stay in Bhutan,” adds Rinzin.