Tour operators and the artisans in the country are beneficiaries of the Druk Gyalpo’s Kidu Relief Fund. Executive Director of the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO), Sonam Dorji, said that the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu Fund comes as a huge respite for tourism industry as the sector was the first and hardest to be hit in the country.
“The amount is not determined but still anything which is being granted as a Kidu from His Majesty is a huge help. It’s not just the tour operators and the staff but also the guides, hotels, whoever is related to the tourism sector. It is very beneficial for every individual. Beside that the government also has released monetary measures that has also supplemented the Kidu. It is very unprecedented relief measures given not just to the tourism industry but to every affected sector,” he said.
He said that the whole economy of the country is affected. There are some illiterate people who find it hard to apply for the Kidu Relief online, and there are some people without any access to the Internet or to gadgets.
“We are asking them to call us and use the infrastructures in the office. We have requested Royal Kidu Secretariat, which is a composition of RMA, GNHC and PMO, that some companies have hundreds of staff, and the verification has to go through the employers. The employers will receive hundreds of calls for the verification and it be hard for them to identify who is mostly affected or not, so ABTO will compile the list and verify and sent to the Kidu Office,” he said.
He said that some of the tour operators are not applying and keeping the option for other more deserving and affected ones. There are some tour companies that are applying the Kidu for half of the staff, as they will pay for the other half by themselves.
Almost 500 individuals have been verified by ABTO for the Druk Gyalpo’s Kidu Reilef Fund so far.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Handicraft Association of Bhutan, Chorten Dorji, said that the artisans in the association plan to work in construction sector to sustain their livelihood if the situation prolongs. Till then the Kidu will benefit them for three consecutive months.
“We have all the skilled artisans and they can take up any construction works because we have different levels of skills, not just painting and other things, but even masonry skill. They have very good foundation when it comes to the construction work. If the situation gets worse, they will go into construction sites,” he said.
Total of 130 out of 500 artisans have been verified till date.