Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering

PM lays out the tourism roadmap

In a recent interaction between the Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering and the media in the Thimphu Press Club he said while some places and cities are back to the pre–pandemic stage of tourism globally it has picked up 50 to 40 percent and Bhutan is 20 to 25 percent.

On the SDF he said that the 8 days’ scheme and 14 days’ scheme does not mean the SDF is effectively USD 100 per day as tourists have to stay 8 days or 14 days to get the full benefit.

“While currently it is a not a good scenario, if we roll from USD 200 to 100 SDF and everything comes back to normal then why not. There is light at the end of the tunnel that if we can carry on like this for another 1 or 2 years it will pick back up in a reformed style,” said the PM.

He said that in a reform it is about progression and forward movement and tourism is not just about SDF. “Going back to USD 100 SDF as of today is not an option,” said the PM.

The PM said, “If things get worse then why make it USD 100, we need to make it zero.” 

The PM said the theory that if there is no tourism then everything will collapse is not true. The PM also said that main source of foreign currency in Bhutan is firstly aid and loan, followed by hydropower and tourism is third and and it is picking up.

He said the government is aware about the impact of tourism on the market, guides, hotels, vegetable vendors, waiters and waitresses etc. He said the numbers are growing.

 “Situation is deteriorating in some angles and improving in some angles,” he added.

On hotels he said, “We are allowing them to buy some time by not paying the EMI. TCB is talking to the world. We are making more and more people interested to come to Bhutan.”

On the impact of high airfare for tourists on tourism the PM said, “On airfare I agree and I have talked to the airlines but you should know that Druk Air and Tashi do not work with or under the government. When we say to decrease they will ask for subsidy. That we cannot do.”

 “We asked them to see. If they cannot make it by amount, then make it by frequency and volume,” he added.

Due to the high airfare many Indian tourists are coming in via Bagdora and Jaigaon and Bhutanese tour operators say this has given a lot of say to Jaigaon tour operators.

Here the PM said, “If we have affordable flight to Paro they will depend on Kolkata operators. Jaigaon, Delhi, Mumbai need to go together and operators need to go abroad.”

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