Convertible currency earnings hit

Email

Bhutan was set to have one of the best years in tourism after the Lonely Planet in October 2019 recognised Bhutan as the number one travel destination for 2020. What happened is just the opposite.

Last year in the first quarter, from January to March, 12,786 tourists had visited Bhutan. The number dropped by almost half. Only 6,624 tourists visited Bhutan in the first quarter of this year.

From January 15 to March 16, about 1,960 tourists cancelled their visa to visit Bhutan.

The year 2019 saw a total of 315,599 tourists visit Bhutan, which is a 15.14 percent increase compared to 2018.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is also expected to hit the country’s convertible currency reserve as the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) forecasts that Bhutan is unlikely to see arrivals until the next year.

In the first quarter of this year, tourism generated a gross receipt of USD 10.14 million (M), according to TCB reports. Last year, tourism generated a total gross receipt of USD 88.63M from the MDPR paying (international tourists) arrivals, a 3.77 percentage change as compared to 2018.

As per the annual tourism revenue growth rate, the gross receipt from the MDPR paying arrivals was estimated to hit almost USD 92 million in 2020. This means that with the closure of tourism,    the country will lose about USD 82M in convertible currency from tourism.

The government hopes that the country will receive more foreign assistance to make up for the loss of convertible currency from tourism.

An official from the prime minister’s office at a recent press briefing said that development partners had come forward to assure more assistance to help Bhutan cope with the situations created by the pandemic.

Officials from TCB recently presented the tourism situation report to the joint parliament committee on Covid-19 preparedness.

The TCB reported that the government has allocated a total of Nu 220.4M as the tourism stimulus package for training and gainful engagement of affected people from the sector.

According to TCB, a total of 2,512 people have confirmed their participation in various activities under the stimulus programme. If the number of candidates remains the same and all the allocated money is utilised, TCB will spend Nu 87,738 on each person on an average.

The amount allocated for engagement of affected people in infrastructure and product development is Nu 94.1 million. But only 62 people have confirmed their willingness to engage in infrastructure and product development.

A total of Nu 97 million has been allocated for the training and re-skilling programme, for which 1,412 have confirmed their participation. But the programme has been deferred due to social distance reasons.

According to TCB, travel will fundamentally change and the sector will not resume as it was before.

TCB estimates that the closure of tourism has affected the livelihoods of about 50,000 people in hotels, handicrafts, airlines and transport among other businesses.

The TCB hopes that arrivals will start from January next year. The TCB estimates that Bhutan in January next year will see 30 percent of the arrivals in January this year.

Thereafter, arrivals are estimated to increase by 10 percent monthly for the rest of the year, except for the peak months of March, April and September and October at 20 percent.

The joint parliamentary committee members acknowledged and appreciated that TCB’s efforts but felt that the current plans and progammes were not satisfactory.

The committee’s chair, Dorji Wangdi, said that some of the programmes being undertaken by TCB were not in keeping with the government’s standing statement of focusing on two things in tourism sector: skilling programmes and development of new tourist amenities.

He said that there was no regional distribution as all programmes were still concentrated in current top five tourist-rich dzongkhags.

“The current stimulus programmes are largely traditional and there are no innovative and long-term strategies and programmes. Expenses must be prudent and programmes sustainable,” he said.

He said that it was the right time to take the opportunity to focus on developing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for implementation of SDF as regional tourists would realistically be the first ones to step in.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


Related Posts

View from the Sky For Every Travellers Flying into Bhutan

Despite Boeing ranking Paro airport as 'one of the world's most difficult for takeoffs and landings, the views over the...

Aug 06, 2020 14:25

Thousands of Bhutanese signed up as DeSuups during COVID-19...

While COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of inconveniences, challenges, and uncertainties to individuals, it did not...

Aug 04, 2020 15:45

Bhutanese Culture and Manners- What Makes You Bhutanese

With more exposure to the outside world, Bhutanese people take pride in driglam namzha as a unique identity of Bhutan...

Jul 30, 2020 11:34

Reasons Why Locals are Flocking to Paro Ta Dzong After Almost a...

On June 24th 2020 Paro Ta Dzong opened to the museum visitors as A Tribute to His Majesty the King coinciding with the...

Jul 22, 2020 09:33

Finding Purpose in a Pandemic

COVID-19 has spawned new farmers in Bhutan. Find out how Tshering Pelden traded her guide uniform for farmer outfit in...

Jul 21, 2020 10:26

Story of Final Year College Student Who Joined college after...

Sonam Dorji a final year student shares this thought on his first day of college amid pandemic.

Jul 04, 2020 14:03

Latest

News

Royal initiative keeps Bhutan’s film industry alive

“I don’t think I have been this busy in a very long time,” says Dechen Wangdi.

Jul 19, 2020 10:48

Employment opportunities amid crisis - Tour guides opts farming

A tour guide could earn a minimum of Nu 30,000 per month during the peak tourist season in Bhutan. The income made was sufficient to support...

May 19, 2020 19:53

Features

View from the Sky For Every Travellers Flying into Bhutan

Despite Boeing ranking Paro airport as 'one of the world's most difficult for takeoffs and landings, the views over the clear blue waters...

Aug 06, 2020 14:25

Thousands of Bhutanese signed up as DeSuups during COVID-19 Pandemic

While COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of inconveniences, challenges, and uncertainties to individuals, it did not deter the Bhutanese to...

Aug 04, 2020 15:45

Sports

Football clubs in Bhutan gearing up for Bhutan Premier League (BPL) 2020

Bhutan Premier League (BPL), the top national football tournament in Bhutan is set to commence on August 1.

Jul 24, 2020 14:33

Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Business

Are Local Vendors Earning More Money Than the Civil Servant?

A Farmer from Lango, Paro gave up farming to be vendor while office goers are switching into agriculture as the remedy to curb their...

Jul 27, 2020 19:15

Once the booming Handicraft Shops in Paro Dying- Paro Today

Paro town looks so different in its history as tourist destination in Bhutan.

Jun 24, 2020 16:58

Travel

The Longest Urban Hiking Trail from PangriZampa to Lungtenphu, Thimphu

This trail is a less explored pocket of paradise for trekkers and wanderers who are in search of natures hospitality and solitude away from...

Aug 05, 2020 10:40

Tomorrow is the Most Auspicious Day of the Year at Paro Taksang.

Even before the gilded door to this holy site is open, pilgrims from all walks of life from all over the country flock to Paro to hike up...

Jul 19, 2020 20:53

Lifestyle

Food on Wheels- First of its kind in Bhutan

The World's Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains doesn't exist in Bhutan.

Mar 04, 2020 09:39

Amazing Stories from the Eastern Part of Bhutan

You can't say you have visited the eastern part of Bhutan unless you have experienced the following bizarre things.

Mar 02, 2020 19:02

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!