Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Employment, Lyonpo Karma Dorji

Govt to allow Blue Poppy 1 and above hotels to keep tourists and is planning SDF promotions for longer staying tourists

The country’s low tourist arrivals compared to the prior year have had an impact on the tourism industry. In line with the objectives of the tourism policy, the government has acknowledged this fact and embraced newer tactics to increase tourist arrivals.

During the 49th meet the press, the Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Employment, Karma Dorji, said, “The vision for the tourism industry is already set, and it takes time and effort, therefore, it cannot be done overnight. Since the opening of tourism in September 2022, in 7 months’ time, we have had 39,160 tourists, and it is increasing monthly. The trend is positive.”

The Minister said, “In terms of numbers, it was envisioned while we made this vision of high-value, low-volume tourists in the country, so it will be possible by only 2025 to reach pre-pandemic levels.”

The minister said that already a lot has been done to achieve the goal. The minister highlighted a few of the strategies adopted by the government.

He said, “We already know that Trans-Bhutan’s trail is already one of the best trails in the world and then our monument fees and pilgrimage tourism have increased and are doing well.”

In addition to hiring an expatriate chief marketing officer who was already engaged on an international marketing campaign, the minister said that roadside amenities are also being enhanced. There are typically 200 to 500 news pieces about tourism published each month by publications like Telegram, Conde Nast Traveler, the Financial Times, and many more.

“With headlines like 37 best places to travel in 2023, The world’s best places to visit in March, and Bhutan is the ultimate family destination. We have already amassed a 664 million-strong readership,” the Minister said.

According to the minister, the government is trying to make the nation a year-round tourist destination by enhancing and incorporating ecotourism initiatives in five new dzongkhags, namely Trashigang, Lhuntse, Mongar, Trashiyangtse, and Zhemgang. 

Samtse, Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Trongsa are the new entry and exit points for Indian tourists.

The Minister said, “From the coming months, what we have discussed is allowing any hotels that meet the minimum standards, which are Blue Poppy 1 and above, to host guests. The guest can decide where they want to stay, and they do not have to stay in a three-star hotel.”

The minister also said that the government is also discussing time-bound SDF promotion for longer-staying tourists.

“From the data we have found that on average, Asians stay 5 days and most western and Europeans stay 7 days. We are looking at the time-bound SDF promotion for 5- and 7-day tourists, and we are also working with tourists as a partner in the preservation and conservation of our environment. Certain SDF promotion for those kinds of tourists who want to come here and plant some trees could be provided,” the Minister said.

Similarly, the enhanced Gelephu Airport will provide travelers with more options in terms of air transport.

“Some of the initiatives are already being implemented, and the government recognizes that it is a continuous effort and process that the government is undertaking and working on to get it done,” he added.

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