11,093 tourists came in from September 23 to November 8

Guides say better monitoring required to ensure they are hired

As per Department of Tourism (DoT), a total of 11,093 tourists have arrived in the country from September 23 to November 8, 2022.

A total of 2,349 tourists who arrived in the country are paying the full USD 200 Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), with 3,642 guests paying the old SDF of USD 65, and 5,102 guests paying the SDF of Nu 1,200.

This has been good for the tourist standard hotels where most of these guests are staying. However, the guides have complaints.

According to the Guide Association of Bhutan (GAB), till date over 1,000 guides have cleared the Tour Guide Readiness Assessment carried out by the Department of Tourism (DoT).

The Chairman of GAB, Garab Dorji, said that some of the guides have no jobs, as there are not enough tours coming in.

“Apart from a few guides, the majority of them are currently jobless. At the same time, we have a few hundred guides who are DeSuups, and are given training and are engaged in construction and small projects,” he said.

He claimed that there are some lapses in monitoring by the DoT, but GAB is hoping that after one or two months, the supervision, monitoring, and training will be enhanced, and they will see that the quality of services is assured, particularly from guides.

He claimed that many tourists entered the country without guides, and traveled up to Gangtey, and the evidence is all over YouTube because they filmed Vlogs, which undermines the DoT’s professionalism.

“If you truly want to talk about ‘high value, low volume’, one of the most important product are guides, and we need to train, upscale, and assess them on a regular basis, especially cultural and trekking guides since they get lot of tours,’ he said.

According to the Chairman, many guides are not up to the mark, among those who have passed the test; they are young, fresh, and inexperienced.

Regarding the Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA), he pointed out that guides are paid as low as Nu 700, while permanent guides are given Nu 300 and a modest salary at the moment.

“I’ve heard that tour operators have pocketed some of the guides’ tips. If we want to build this ‘Bhutan Believe’, we must act,” he said.

GAB is hopeful that by 2023, with a stronger push in advertisement, marketing, and awareness, not hundreds but millions of tourists who have never heard of Bhutan would visit the nation.

“We want tourists who respect our nature, culture, and traditions,” he said.

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