Tapping On Brand Bhutan To Promote The Himalayan Kingdom As An Exclusive Destination


Gross National Happiness and the Wangchuck dynasty will always be the core components of Brand Bhutan.

Spring time in Bumthang, Bhutan. (Source: Hai Piano)


By Dechen Dolkar Business Bhutan

Tapping on the positive image of ‘Brand Bhutan’, the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) is trying to strongly promote the Himalayan Kingdom as an exclusive destination.

Brand Bhutan is made up of the following elements:

  1. Gross National Happiness,
  2. Rich history,
  3. Dzongs (Monasteries),
  4. Exotic Shangri-La (or Last Paradise),
  5. Exclusivity,
  6. Pristine Environment,
  7. Carbon negative,
  8. Culture and Tradition,
  9. Language and people
  10. Tshechus (Festivals),
  11. Vajrayana Buddhism, and a
  12. Vibrant democracy gifted by the Monarchs and Selfless Kings. 


Source: Druk Asia


Bhutan opened her doors to the outside world with the visionary policy of ‘high-value, low volume’ tourism in the early 1970s.

Promoting Bhutan as an exclusive travel destination

The Director General (DG) of TCB, Dorji Dhradhul said that today, they intend to further strengthen this policy with the adoption of an organisational tag line – ‘Taking Tourism to the Top’.

The TCB aims to make the Kingdom of Bhutan the most exclusive or ‘best’ travel destination in the world, as part of its ambitious drive to promote Brand Bhutan.  The TCB is by default, one of the key promoters of Brand Bhutan.   

The DG mentioned that Brand Bhutan can comprise of just an attribute or a combination of characteristics which make Bhutan unique and stand out amongst all other countries.

In other words, it is the positive reputation that Bhutan has earned over the years, like the CV of a person.


Photo: Behance.net


“I also believe that nation branding is a subset of nation building. Traditionally, our nation branding’s main interest was to attract foreign investments, tourists and inbound brain drain. But today, nation branding is becoming more integrated with nation building. It is about building the best image for our nation,” said Dorji Dhradhul.

The lasting legacy propounded by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo

Every Bhutanese needs to know and remember that had it not been for the far-sighted tourism policy of ‘High value, Low Volume’, propounded by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in the early 70s, tourism in Bhutan would not have been the same today.

“We also need to remember with immeasurable gratitude, our beloved Kings and all the efforts, sacrifices and decisiveness in resisting the pressures to adopt the liberal tourism policy which is more attractive and popular but unsustainable and short-sighted,” said the DG.


Photo: Tourism Council of Bhutan


The TCB also aptly adopted and promoted the national flower – blue poppy with the tagline ‘Happiness is a place’ as the logo for Bhutan Tourism.

Gross National Happiness - the core essence of Brand Bhutan

This is of course influenced by the concept of Gross National Happiness, which could be considered as the ‘mother’ of Brand Bhutan.

While the integrity and consistency of the core value or the characteristic of Brand Bhutan is important, some elements can and should change over the years to ‘sync with’ the changing situation and times.

For instance, GNH and the Wangchuck dynasty will always be the core components of Brand Bhutan. As nation building is dynamic, so is branding.   

Emphasis on ‘High value, low volume’ tourism

According to Dorji Dhradhul, advocating ‘High value, low volume’ tourism means that tourists will have an exclusive experience, therefore hospitality and tourism services have to be top class.

The number of tourists should be guided by the carrying capacity of our goods and services. Therefore, when we talk about our exclusive Brand Bhutan, we are also talking about the management of all tourists regardless of their origins.

“The TCB hopes to start properly managing regional tourism with some regulations to start with and hopes to do away the two categories (regional and international) of tourists that we have as of today in due course,” said Dorji Dhradhul.

In the near future, we hope to have just one category of tourist, which means that any visitor or guest visiting Bhutan will be labelled as a tourist regardless of where they are from.


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


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