On September 23, Bhutan will reopen its borders to foreign travellers. Since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, the nation has never before welcomed visitors from throughout the globe.
The tiny Himalayan nation, which shares a border with China and India, is prepared to restructure its economy. In March 2020, after Bhutan reported its first incidence of COVID-19, this country famous for its natural beauty and old Buddhist culture closed its borders to tourists.
According to the Bhutanese Tourism Ministry, the industry will be revamped with an emphasis on three main sectors. Infrastructure and services, traveller experiences, and environmental impact will be the main areas of emphasis.
Bhutan’s foreign minister, Dr. Tandi Dorji, claims that COVID-19 has given the nation time to unwind and reconsider how the industry should be organised and run. Additionally, he stated that this action is being taken to promote the nation’s social and economic well-being while minimising its carbon imprint. In the long run, Dorji continued, “our goal is to provide high-value experiences for visitors, as well as professional, well-paying jobs for our inhabitants.
Revisions to the criteria for service providers, such as hotels, guides, tour operators, and drivers, are among them. These individuals will soon need to pass a more rigorous certification procedure in order to work with visitors. To improve service quality, employees will be forced to take part in skill-upgrading and reskilling programmes.
Bhutan will also take steps to combat climate change while maintaining a carbon-neutral economy and a green tourist destination.
The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), which was previously 65 USD (US dollars) per person each night, is now 200 USD. It will support initiatives that advance carbon-free travel. Indian visitors will be required to pay a previously agreed-upon price that will be altered in the future.
The Minimum Daily Package Rate (MDPR) will also be eliminated at the same time. With this, travellers will have the choice to work with service providers directly and pay them as necessary.
“High Value, Low Volume” tourism, where we meet visitor demands while preserving our people, culture, values, and environment, is at the core of our approach for revitalising the tourism sector. A critical and priceless national resource, tourism affects all Bhutanese, not just those who work in the industry. To protect future generations, it is essential to ensure its sustainability, according to Dorji Dhradhul, director general of the Bhutan Tourism Council.