Due to the current tourism policy, most of the people in other countries are not aware of Bhutan, they don’t know what Bhutan is and where it is physically located.
Those who are aware of Bhutan complain about the USD 250 per day mechanism as they think that it is designed by Bhutan to hide something from the rest of the world when countries around the world have opened their doors to rest of the world. This is except for authoritarian countries that close their doors to rest of the world.
Some people also argue that their countries should put in place the same mandatory requirements including having to pay USD 250 per day for people from Bhutan traveling to their countries. Some countries have adopted a visa policy of reciprocity principle where a minimum stay is granted that is similar to the minimum stay provided to their citizens.
Only handful of tourists wants Bhutan to maintain the current tourism policy.
Bhutan is a part of the international community and a part of the humanity. Bhutan must open up for overall growth, development, security and sovereignty. The world has changed due to globalization, internet technology and other technologies. Bhutan cannot live off the grid while there is a paradigm shift in the rest of the countries as Bhutan will stand to lose.
This tourism policy should change and the method of collection of fees and commission must change. It has to be at the point of sale, rather than the one time collection as it is now.
This is the most awaited proposal. Tourism is one industry in Bhutan where different kinds of people can be employed and make a living but due to the prevailing scenario, the lion’s share is taken by the few who can afford to explore marketability.
Tourism is considered as a major industry in every country not just in Bhutan. I would like to request the authorities to make it VISA on arrival paying whatever royalty is fixed at the airport for most developed and developing countries. The high value tourism may not continue for long.
A free SAARC visa or nominal payment (USD) is another way of boosting income. It will help standard restaurants, transport system and local employment beside two airlines. I meet many people who would like to come and holiday in Bhutan, but the 250 USD per day and very rigid visa policies are bottle necks. We can’t expect everyone to spend and we should let them have choices. A basic requirement would be Hotel Reservations and fixed dates of stay and return tickets should suffice for the immigration department to issue visa on arrival.
At the same time I saw some of the postings and pictures in Facebook where so called Indian tourists came to Paro and camped near the river littering the environment, polluting the rive and ,disturbing with loud noise /music etc late into the night. Let this not happen in future.
Opening up the tourism market does not seem like the best option. For a short time it could help the country’s economy, but in the long run we will all be left crying over this decision. Right now the government is sort of protecting the tourism stake holder, but once it becomes an open market, everyone in the tourism industry will be at the mercy of outside agents. Only a few will prosper, especially the ones who already has enough infrastructure in place. The smaller fishes will get eaten up by the Sharks!
Although the tourism policy says $250, most of the tour operators sell the packages at $225(peak season) & $180 (off season) and out of this $65 is taken up by the government leaving $160(season) $115 (off season) and which amounts to Nu. 9600 and Nu.6900 to the tour operators to pay for the hotels, meals, guide, entrance fees, meals etc.
So liberalizing the policy seems to be now just protecting the government’s revenue of $65. While the operators will be left fighting for commissions on hotels, meals etc. We might even have guides shouting at various tourist spots struggling and fighting to sell their services! And when this decision affects the tour operators forcing them to shut down, what happens to the thousands of employees like us?
Sunny Namgay Zam
I second Sunny’s views. What has BCCI done for small business holder as of now? Can anyone mention here. Till now BCCI has been favoring big players only. Everyone has equal rights to make some living from Tourism in Bhutan not just big players which we can clearly see from the proposal that BCCI is going to put to the Govt. ABTO must intervene and stop this crazy BCCI so that everyone is benefited from Tourism Business which was envisioned by the beloved Fourth King for the benefits all the citizens of Bhutan not just few who are already rich.
If visa for Bhutan is given over a counter at Paro International airport along with royalty charges, then our government should seriously consider setting up a tourism police. That would employ more than 500 youths. They will work for safety and security of the tourists and at the same time they’ll see that tourists don’t misbehave. They will be posted all over Bhutan where tourists visit.