The Bumdeling-Jamkhar representative Dupthob sought an update from the Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Lekey Dorji on the implementation status of the resolutions on regional tourism in the country.
These recommendations were submitted by the Economic Development and Private Sector Committee during the 8th session and it was directed that the government it implement as soon as possible.
“In general reference, most of the recommendations have been carried through and some are in the process of implementation. The Economic Development Policy 2016 has been approved by the cabinet and is being implemented. On the tourism sector, policy on regional tourism has been framed but a more holistic tourism policy is in the pipeline for endorsement in 2017 which Lyonchhen has already mentioned earlier,” said Lyonpo Lekey Dorji.
The Economic Minister presented an overview report on some of the new programs carried out in the sector to regulate the issue of the much debated regional tourism in the country.
“An online permit system for regional tourists has been piloted since 26th January 2017 with the main objective of managing the numbers of the regional tourist in the country, providing better services to the visitors, enhancing visitor satisfaction and experience and upholding the policy of high value, low impact of the tourism sector,” said the minister.
The online permit system is expected to create a conducive and transparent functioning of the sector where the travel agents and hoteliers registered with TCB are required to provide licensed Bhutanese guide, vehicle registered under RSTA, and Tourism Council of Bhutan certified lodging facilities.
Since the online permit is not the only option to come into the country as of now, it has been observed that many tourists register themselves in person through the TCB office in Phuntsholing. As of date 4,874 tourists applied through the newly established online permit system and around 47,661 entered the country through the TCB office in Phuntsholing.
“TCB is currently reviewing the results of the pilot online permit system and acquiring experience from the tourists. If the online permit system goes well, it will be made mandatory for the tourist to get their permits online. TCB is also monitoring the travel agents and tourist standard hotels under the online permit system and any defaulters will be penalized,” said Lyonpo.
After TCB started with the entry permit fees for Trashichhodzong and Paro Taktshang for non tariff paying tourists, there are plans to implement the same measures for Punakha Dzong and Memorial Chorten in the capital.
Supplementary questions were also raised on issues regarding the complaints received from some tourists on poor waste management in some of the regions, which might create a bad impact on the experience of the tourists.
Lyonpo Lekey said that although the government is actively engaging in the cleaning activities in the country, it is a collective responsibility of the people to ensure cleanliness of the country and that the people should not always depend on the government to carry out the cleaning responsibility.