The country knows it needs to develop, but it’s making sure the development doesn’t come at the expense of its natural resources.
Photo: Flickr user sprklg
“My country is not one big monastery populated with happy monks.”
That’s the first thing that Tshering Tobgay, the charismatic prime minister of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, wants you to know about his homeland.
People are forgiven for thinking otherwise. For its beautiful forests and mountains and ancient Buddhist architecture, Bhutan—a poor, isolated country sandwiched between India and China that famously measures Gross National Happiness as its main economic indicator—has been called the last Shangri-la. But the prime minister knows that perception works against Bhutan’s efforts to develop economically along a truly sustainable path that has eluded many other equally beautiful nations. In Bhutan, many people still live in poverty, youth unemployment is rising, and pressures on forests are increasing. Its total GDP, $2 billion, is half that of Springfield, Ohio. Continue reading How The Tiny, Poor Country Of Bhutan Became One Of The Most Sustainable Countries On Earth
MAY 17, 2011 By Mary Kay Magistad for the THE WORLD (PRI): Download MP3
Bhutanese are proud of their traditional Buddhist culture – a culture tracing centuries back to Tibet, which has given Bhutan both its written language and its strain of Buddhism. As an independent country, Bhutan has been able to preserve its traditional culture far better than Tibet. And it wants to share that culture – with a select few, well-heeled tourists.
Many climb – though, in sneakers or hiking books rather than in heels – to the Tiger’s Nest in Paro, a Buddhist monastery with gilded roofs that seems to hover ethereally above a sheer cliff face. The hike on steep forest trails winds past rhododendrons and ghostly Spanish moss. With the high altitude, it takes even a young, fit person a couple of hours to make the ascent – and that’s before you get to the more than 700 stairs leading to the monastery at the end.
A Different Kind of Tourist
But few of the foreign tourists on the trail when I visited – or in Bhutan in general – were young or fit. Many rode donkeys up, and used walking sticks to gradually make their way down. Not exactly the energetic young trekkers of Nepal – but then, Bhutan’s tourists are different. Continue reading Why it Costs $200 a Day in Bhutan?
Taleb Rifai applauds Bhutan’s sustainability and quality tourism model
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, has expressed his support for the long-term tourism policy of Bhutan, with its focus on sustainability and quality, on an official visit to the country where he met with acting Prime Minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba
The Royal Government of Bhutan considers tourism “a window of opportunity for the future of Bhutan” said Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, during his meeting with Mr. Rifai. Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba pointed to tourism’s contribution to the economic security and Gross National Happiness – Bhutan’s measure of wellbeing – of the Bhutanese people. Continue reading UNWTO applauds Gross National Happiness country
Can Bhutan bring in more tourists at a higher tariff? According to a majority of tour operators in the country that today number around 300 it may not be possible.
In other words, it’s going to be difficult to meet the government’s target of bringing in 100,000 dollar paying tourists by 2013, when the official tariff goes up from USD 200 to USD 250 a day.
Given the existing policy of ‘high value low volume’ tourism, USD 200 a day is generally seen as expensive, because it is assumed to be the cost of the daily visa fee.
It’s surprising that, even after all these years of opening up to tourism, most prospective tourists do not know that the USD 200 a day also covers the cost for food, lodge, transport and guide services. There’s a serious communication gap that needs to be bridged.
Still, the notion that tourists may decide to go some place else instead of coming to Bhutan because official tariffs have gone up by USD 50 does not sound convincing, when every blessed year Bhutan keeps featuring as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Continue reading Bhutan Tour and the Daily Tariff
Hundred percent foreign investment will be allowed in the construction of five-star hotels in Bhutan on a selective basis to overcome the shortage of financial capital in the domestic market and up the quality of services provided to tourists visiting Bhutan.
However, in the four-star hotel category, as suggested by the hoteliers, the government agreed that foreign investments will be allowed up to 70%, in order to create opportunities for the local entrepreneurs. Continue reading Bhutan to allow 100% FDI for 5-star luxury hotels
The government and the stakeholders agree on an ambitious plan to bring in 100,000 high-end tourists by year 2012.
Bhutan will be sold as a high quality and low impact tourist destination which draws visitors throughout the year by building the necessary infrastructure, setting high benchmarks for delivery of services, diversifying products, and ensuring that its benefits reach a larger segment of the population.
The consultative meeting between the stakeholders of tourism and the government in Thimphu yesterday decided on numerous reforms that will take the industry forward in the years to come. Bhutan will be positioned as a responsible, unique, authentic and quality destination anchored on GNH philosophy with minimum negative impact on natural and cultural heritage. A nine-pronged approach will be adopted to bring in 100,000 tourists by 2012. These include developing an additional 2-3 circuits, promoting new products and defining Bhutan’s brand identity, value proposition and market to target audience. Aviation capacities will be built internationally and locally with domestic helicopter/airline services commencing soon to key destinations.
Continue reading Bhutan Revises Tourism Policy