Udalguri: Bhutan will be reopening its border gate for tourists from September 23 next with a renewed focus on the sustainability of the tourism industry. 

According to reports, the Himalayan kingdom is exploring to tap three key areas which include infrastructure and services, the travel experience of tourists and the tourism sector’s environmental impact.

“COVID-19 has allowed us to reset – to rethink how the sector can be best structured and operated so that it not only benefits Bhutan economically but socially as well while keeping carbon footprints low. In the long run, our goal is to create high-value experiences for visitors, and well-paying and professional jobs for our citizens,” said Tandi Dorji, Foreign Minister of Bhutan and Chairperson of the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

Among the slew of changes are revised standards for service providers, including hotels, guides, tour operators, and drivers, which will soon be subjected to a more robust certification process before they can engage tourists.

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Employees will be required to participate in skilling and reskilling programmes, where necessary, to boost service quality.

Amid the intensifying threat of climate change, Bhutan will also be stepping up its efforts to keep the kingdom carbon-negative and a green destination for tourists. The country will promote carbon-neutral tourism to build a more sustainable tourism sector. This includes offsetting the carbon footprint of tourists and upskilling workers in the sector. The revamp of the tourism sector comes amid a widespread transformation across Bhutan from the civil service to the financial sector. 

The changes are geared towards developing Bhutan’s human capital by equipping the population with more proficient skills, knowledge, and experiences.

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“Our strategy for the revamp of the tourism sector brings us back to our roots, of ‘High Value, Low Volume’ tourism, where we meet the needs of tourists while protecting our people, culture, values, and environment. Tourism is a strategic and valuable national asset, one that does not only impact those working in the sector but all Bhutanese. Ensuring its sustainability is vital to safeguarding future generations”, said Dorji Dhradhul, Director General, Tourism Council of Bhutan.

Pertinently, a total of 21 people died in Bhutan due to COVID-19 thorough the pandemic. Bhutan managed to keep numbers low by maintaining a strict zero-covid policy.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com