Rethinking the future of Tourism after COVID

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) on friday launched a Bi-monthly program to provide platform for multisectoral stakeholder discussion named as Bhutan Tourism Dialogue.

Director General (DG) of TCB Dorji Dhradhul said that the Bhutan Tourism Dialogue is one of the many interventions that the Royal Government of Bhutan is undertaking under the ‘Recoup, React and Recover’ strategy after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the core objective of the program is to provide platform to multisectoral stakeholders for the development of tourism through exchange of ideas and experiences.

The TCB DG said that he foresees four changes for the future of tourism in Bhutan mainly in line to COVID-19.

He said, “Firstly, the need to enhance health safety protocols and practices in the tourism industries, secondly tourist may prefer to travel indulgingly in smaller groups, thirdly the choice of tourism product could mainly be in health and well-being programs and finally the rate of increase in the number of tourist arrivals will very gradual as compared to the excessive influx in the past.”

 He said that since the influx of tourists will be much lesser, this will be directly proportional to the number of services demanded which would mean that there would be lesser needs for hotels, tour services, guides and everything else dependent on the tourist influx would struggle.

He said that this is of great concern for everyone in the industry and that the people in tourism industries should really try to explore in terms of jobs or their businesses, moving forward.

He concluded, “As far as Bhutan Tourism is concerned, I believe, Bhutan Tourism will be always guided by the time-test golden principle or a policy, of High-Value Low-Volume for many many years to come, if not for eternity.”

 During the discussion the panelists shared their perspective on tourism as a business, sustainable track for tourism, the quality of guides, eco-tourism and post-covid-19 model for tourism as well as the conservation of tradition for Brand Bhutan.

Garab Dorji said that guides are the forefront representative and ambassadors to the guests visiting the country and that it is important that guides possess better traits and skills than what it has been until date.

He said that sometimes it is a matter of concern as the average age of the tourists visiting Bhutan is 68 years old and that guides are barely 25 years old.

Aum Phub Zam highlighted how from a business perspective marketing and promotion activities should be targeted towards the bubble tourism program.

She also stated that the tourism taxation should be considered post-COVID-19 in order to bring the economy back on its feet.

 Speaking on sustainable tourism, Dr. Karma cited an expert study stating that if modernization keeps up at the same pace Bhutan may have a risk of losing its ecologically-rich brand name by the next decade and may no longer be a carbon negative nation.

 The panel members also discussed on Organic-Bhutan in terms of tapping into unique food of Bhutan from different parts or the country as well as talked about exploring newer tourism products and the way forward with digitalization and domestic tourism.

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