Accommodation crunch for tourists in peak seasons

While travel agencies in Mumbai, India cited shortcomings in terms of capacity in areas of tourist accommodation in Bhutan, Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) flatly denied the statement.
Drukair commercial manager, Tshering Penjor said, “In September, October and November agencies in India, especially in Mumbai are finding it difficult to promote Bhutan because during this period there are no hotels available”.
This he said was the feedback received during a recent road show initiated by Drukair as the airline plans to open routes to the Indian city.
“They expressed that even if there is the air capacity, there are no hotels,” he said.
Drukair had initially planned to start flight operations to Singapore and Mumbai next month. While the inaugural flight to Singapore is confirmed for 28th of this month, Mumbai will need to wait.
“The general feedback is that while the interest is there, we may be able to start operations only by the end of the year or next year,” the manager said.
Among others, he referred to the lack of hotels as one of the reasons.
However, TCB denied any shortage when it comes to accommodation. TCB’s marketing and promotion manager, Damcho Rinzin said the highest recorded occupancy rate in 2011 was 69% in October for five star categories. October was identified as the busiest month according to the Bhutan tourism monitor annual report. The report also showed that occupancy rate was recorded at 74.63% in four star hotels and much lesser in the lower categories.
“Only if there is 100% occupancy, you can say that there is a shortage,” he said.
Damcho Rinzin said it was not reasonable to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in building more hotels given the fact that hotels run at maximum capacity only during two months of the entire year. He said, the council encouraged “luxury tenting” where tour agencies can identify certain places to camp.
TCB, he said also encouraged the tour operators to design different packages targeted uniformly throughout the year. “We want to make Bhutan a year round destination,” he said.
The tourism council entertained international media only during the slack seasons wherein media houses visit Bhutan and promote trips to Bhutan in their respective countries during the particular seasons. “We don’t need them to promote us during the peak season,” he added.
Another strategy he said is the introduction of different festivals throughout the years such as the Haa summer festival in July and the Takin Fest in February among others.
However, President of the Hotels Association of Bhutan (HAB), Tobgye Dorji said shortage is inevitable especially during the festive days. “For example, during the three days of Tsechu of Paro or Thimphu, even if you add another 300 to 400 beds or even additional hotels, it won’t be enough”.
The president along with many hoteliers said it would be best if the old festivals in different parts of the country are revived and given importance.
General Secretary of the Association of Bhutanese Tour operators (ABTO) Sonam Dorji said “a peak season includes months but the main shortage can happen only for a few days during occasions such as Tsechus”.
He said the association currently works to encourage tourists throughout the year and that it has worked to a certain extent. “Over the years the number of tourists even during the lean season has increased,” he added.
“To a certain extent it is helping, but the shortage of accommodation during the peak season is still there,” he concluded.

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One comment

  1. I don’t know how 100,000 tourists can be achieved without enough accommodations, the govt in line to achieve their target instructed druk air to increase the airfare so that enough seats would be available for tourist, and private Bhutanese has to pay high fare to travel. The govt even don’t give student fare to all students. They don’t want to create trouble by announcing to give second preference to pvt bhutanese so this drastic measure was taken.  First, Indian tourists were not so welcome when fiction failed to attract western tourist they turned to indian, now, even the hotels are given to western tourist first.

    Lyopo yes hey Zimba’a new 5 star hotel in Thimphu, how did they get loan, they knew rupee crunch was coming so constructed fast.

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