Tourism Council Of Bhutan Conceived A Draft Strategy To Address Issue Of Mass Tourism

Email

"We need to manage this important sector of tourism through some regulations for the mutual benefit of the tourist themselves and for us, the host.”

At the Dochula Tshechu (Festival). (Source: Webguy.in)

 

By Dechen Tshomo | Kuensel

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) has come up with a draft strategy to address the issue of mass tourism, said the Foreign Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji at a press conference last week.

Lyonpo, who is also the chairman of the 3rd Tourism Council, said the issue has also been discussed in the cabinet. “The Prime Minister has repeatedly asked us to work on this.”

The Minister said that the issue is not so much about regional tourists. “For us, rather than the mass regional tourism that was being mentioned, the concern is on Bhutan’s high value policy being undermined and Bhutan being sold as a budget destination. This is the major concern for us,” he said.

According to the records of the former Prime Minister’s meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji said that discussions from both sides mentioned that Bhutan should take measures to control the number of tourists coming in so that they can be managed better.

Graphic: Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2018

 

Some of the options in the draft strategy include capping the tourist numbers, introducing daily tariffs as recommended by the Pay Commission, and ensuring that the policy of high value and low impact is maintained by having a certain mechanism in place for tourists to follow such as staying in standard hotels, and getting guided tours among others.

“I assure you that as the Chairperson of the Tourism Council, we are doing everything,” the Lyonpo said.

What are the impact from the mass arrivals of regional tourists?

TCB’s Director General, Dorji Dhradhul explained that regional tourists include visitors from neighbouring countries such as India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives and not just visitors from India as perceived.

While 90 percent of the regional tourists are from India today, he said there was every possibility that the arrivals from Bangladesh would increase rapidly in the future.

In terms of the level of impact of increasing regional tourists every year, regional tourism has both positive and negative impacts:

“Regional tourism has been making a significant contribution to the development of the tourism industry in terms of revenue generation,” he said. However, due to its unregulated nature, the number of undesirable impacts have also been felt.

Some of them include undermining Bhutan’s time-tested tourism policy as an exclusive high-end travel destination.

Graphic: Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2017

 

“This is due to the unregulated nature of regional tourism which unfortunately gives a wrong image of an unorganised and mismanaged tourism,” he said.

The other undesirable impacts include compromising the safety, security, and experience of the regional tourists.

This contributes to the practice of undercutting, giving rise to informal and unlicensed accommodation facilities and other platforms.

“There is a seemingly growing resentment towards this overcrowding caused by unregulated tourism.”

It also affects the quality of people to people exchange, he said. Tourists are not aware of certain sensitive cultural and traditional practices and etiquette and not having any locals to guide them can lead to the formation of negative opinions on regional tourists.

Dorji Dhradhul also clarified that all regional tourists are not low-end backpackers as most tend to wrongly believe.

Importance of regulating regional tourism

“We are in no way and in any way saying that we don’t want regional tourists. It is in our interest and advantage that we capitalise on the potential of regional tourism. We know that outbound tourism from these regions is on the rise,” he said.

Graphic: Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2018

 

“What we are saying is that we need to manage this important sector of tourism through some regulations for the mutual benefit of the tourist themselves and for us, the host.” he added.

To start with, the council is expected to have some regulations in place for the proper management of regional tourism.

“We also hope to do away with the two categories of tourists we have as of today in due course of time. Any visitor or guest coming into the country will be labelled as tourists regardless of their place of origin. It is our desire that we treat all tourists as our guest and give them the best and exclusive experience,” he said.

On concerns raised in the media including social media forums about not getting hotel rooms for dollar paying tourists and crowding at heritage sites, Dorji Dhradhul said the claim may not be true for hotel rooms.

However, he said that overcrowding at heritage sites is true and happening.

“Maybe we have already reached the saturation point. If we don’t take remedial action soon, the risk on our exclusivity driven by the high value, low volume tourism policy is real.”

 

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

 


Related Posts

Harnessing The Power Of Traditional Medicine, Wellness Tourism...

Traditional medicine has been gaining popularity in providing health care services to the Bhutanese.

May 29, 2019 19:48

Unique Products From 20 Districts Of Bhutan Pitched To...

The tourism flagship programme seeks to advance the development, management, promotion and growth of the tourism sector...

May 09, 2019 19:18

Transforming The Economy Through Tourism: A High Value, Low...

What measures must Bhutan take to prevent the destruction that challenges other niche destinations, in a world where a...

Apr 16, 2019 15:46

Tourists Number Records Growth Of 7.61% : Bhutan Tourism Monitor...

According to the report, international leisure arrivals grew by 1.76 percent to 63,367.

Apr 08, 2019 22:22

Bhutan Won The Green Destinations Gold Award At The...

The ITB Berlin is the world's largest tourism trade fair which takes place annually in March at the Messe Berlin.

Mar 13, 2019 20:54

Taking Tourism To The Top – Conference Addressed Issues And Steps...

The Lyonchhen said that the government was committed to taking tourism to the ‘top’, in alignment with the theme of the...

Mar 01, 2019 10:15

Latest

News

Bhutan Observes World Day To Combat Desertification, Advocates Sustainable Land Management

In Bhutan, this day is considered important as it focuses only on land.

Jun 17, 2019 18:28

Embracing Diversity - Bhutan Takes Huge Step Towards Decriminalising Homosexuality

Sections 213 and 214 that criminalised ‘unnatural sex’ removed from the Penal Code of Bhutan.

Jun 13, 2019 22:48

Features

Advocating For A Central School For The Sakteng Community In Bhutan

Mangmi Lhendrup said that without boarding facilities, small children were left without care and guidance from their parents.

Jun 15, 2019 23:58

National Biodiversity Monitoring Protocol Drafted To Ensure That Bhutan’s Rich Biodiversity Thrives

The development of the protocol is Bhutan's first attempt to put in place a proper biodiversity monitoring system at the national-level.

Jun 15, 2019 15:18

Sports

Bhutan’s Dragon Boys Starts FIFA World Cup Qualifiers With A 1-0 Win Over Guam

Midfielder, Tshering Dorji’s 35th minute strike was enough to make Bhutan win the first leg of the first round of the 2022 World Cup and...

Jun 07, 2019 22:18

Meet Choki Om – First Woman From Bhutan To Become A FIFA Referee

Originally from the district of Wangdue, Choki has already been a referee for over a decade.

May 16, 2019 20:58

Business

Swiss Business Delegates Visited Bhutan To Explore Business Opportunities

“Switzerland has a strong industrial base that equally matches the geographical conditions of Bhutan,” said Phub Zam.

Jun 14, 2019 17:25

Celebrating Bhutan's Entrepreneurs: Pema And Rinchen Dorji Wangyel Of Wangyel Studio

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

May 28, 2019 19:18

Travel

Incorporating The Values Of Gross National Happiness Into Bhutan’s Hospitality Sector

High-end hotels like Six Senses and Zhiwa Ling have come up with their own ways to incorporate the tenets of GNH and sustainability...

Jun 09, 2019 19:28

Harnessing The Power Of Traditional Medicine, Wellness Tourism Set To Take Off In Bhutan

Traditional medicine has been gaining popularity in providing health care services to the Bhutanese.

May 29, 2019 19:48

Lifestyle

5 cafes to visit in Thimphu

Best places to hang out in Thimphu for a steaming mug of coffee along with a delicious bite to eat.

Jun 19, 2019 10:30

Food Review: Cloud9 Cafe & Bar

Cloud9 has always been known in Thimphu for dishing out handcrafted gourmet burgers.

Mar 09, 2019 09:44

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!