Bhutan wants tourists live a jour­ney they can cher­ish through­out their lives

Bhutan Times - - Home - ( Cour­tesy : Global Travel In­dus­try News)

THIM­PHU, Bhutan - PATA - Bhutan is work­ing on hav­ing bet­ter roads, two he­li­copters and 11 trekking routes to en­sure that guests, who visit the coun­try, live a jour­ney they can cher­ish through­out their lives.

Prime Min­is­ter Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay made th­ese an­nounce­ments and more at the closing of the Pa­cific Asia Travel As­so­ci­a­tion (PATA) adventure travel and re­spon­si­ble tourism con­fer­ence and mart 2015, yes­ter­day in Thim­phu.

Bhutan, he said, is now a mem­ber of PATA, an as­so­ci­a­tion that pro­motes re­spon­si­ble devel­op­ment of travel and tourism in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion. By be­com­ing a mem­ber, Ly­on­choen said, Bhutan would have the help of the as­so­ci­a­tion’s me­dia and com­mu­ni­ca­tion col­leagues to pro­mote Bhutan.

“We can now use their ex­per­tise, re­sources and knowl­edge in terms of pro­mot­ing and gen­er­at­ing busi­ness in Bhutan,” Ly­onch­hoen said. Ly­onch­hoen shared with the par­tic­i­pants that 2015 is a Visit Bhutan year, ded­i­cated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 60th birth an­niver­sary. “His Majesty is an en­light­ened monarch, the ar­chi­tect of the con­trolled, de­lib­er­ate and re­spon­si­ble fac­ulty of tourism that we have to­day; our first batch of tourists ar­rived in 1974 dur­ing the coro­na­tion of His Majesty, and he has in­sisted to keep the num­bers down and pro­vide a qual­ity ex­pe­ri­ence not avail­able else­where,” Ly­onch­hoen said.

“Visit Bhutan is about cel­e­brat­ing a great man, the ar­chi­tect of unique tourism in the world.” Ly­onch­hoen made a se­ries of an­nounce­ments, which, when im­ple­mented, would boost the tourism in­dus­try. “Bhutan’s roads are in­fa­mous for tourists, and are filled with pot­holes; so we’ve started im­prov­ing and ex­pand­ing the road from Thim­phu to the East, about 500km, which will take three years from now,” Ly­onch­hoen said.

The prime min­is­ter promised that the roads would be com­fort­able with proper pit stops, fa­cil­i­ties to take short breaks or ex­cur­sions, and asked the tourists to be pa­tient. “Af­ter three years, we prom­ise that we’ll pro­vide a road that could be fea­tured in the top 50 must drives in the world,” Ly­onch­hoen said.

“Since we’re ex­pand­ing our roads and we don’t want to pro­vide an un­com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence to tourists, we’ve de­cided to hire two he­li­copters, which will be avail­able for tourists this year.”

The prime min­is­ter also an­nounced that 11 new trekking routes in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try would be opened this year, as well as or­ganic farm­ing for tourists started. He said that, since tourists loved the traf­fic po­lice­men, who stand as an epit­ome and brand Bhutan, traf­fic po­lice­men would be placed at dif­fer­ent land­marks around Thim­phu.

Safe walk­ing, bik­ing and hik­ing trails for the tourists would also be pro­vided, while a small her­itage vil­lage in Thim­phu would also be built dur­ing the Visit Bhutan year. “En­vi­ron­ment is one of the big­gest rea­sons why tourists visit the coun­try; so the agri­cul­ture and for­est min­istry will be con­duct­ing a for­est in­ven­tory, where statis­tics will be avail­able on how much oxy­gen is be­ing pro­duced by our for­est, and also to prove that Bhutan is a car­bon neg­a­tive coun­try,” Ly­onch­hoen said.

The Visit Bhutan year will also fo­cus on be­ing a green and clean Bhutan, and op­por­tu­ni­ties will be pro­vided to tourists to visit hy­dropower plants to see how clean en­ergy is gen­er­ated. “Tourism in Bhutan isn’t about money or num­bers or about us,” Ly­onch­hoen said.

“It’s about the jour­ney through Bhutan and one­self, a jour­ney that guests can cher­ish through­out their lives.” Records with the Tourism Coun­cil of Bhutan (TCB) show that about 116,000 tourists vis­ited the coun­try in 2013. Last year, there were about 130,000 tourists. “We don’t know how many tourists will visit this year, but we don’t want more than 200,000 tourists, oth­er­wise we aren’t be­ing true to our­selves in terms of sus­tain­ing and pro­vid­ing re­spon­si­ble tourism,” Ly­onch­hoen said.

“We’re not be­ing true to the tourists as well, and we’re pur­posely keep­ing the vol­ume low.” CEO of PATA, Mario Hardy, said PATA was formed since 1951, and has been a lead­ing voice and author­ity on travel and tourism in Asia Pa­cific re­gion. “In part­ner­ship with pri­vate and public sec­tor mem­bers, PATA en­hances sus­tain­able growth, value and qual­ity of travel and tourism from and within the re­gion,” Mario Hardy said.

“Bhutan will now ben­e­fit from th­ese part­ner­ships.” The as­so­ci­a­tion com­prises 90 gov­ern­ment, state and city tourism bod­ies, nearly 30 in­ter­na­tional air­lines, air­ports and cruise lines, 57 ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, and hun­dreds of travel in­dus­try com­pa­nies in Asia Pa­cific and be­yond. About 200 del­e­gates from the Asia Pa­cific re­gion at­tended the event that PATA and TCB or­ga­nized. The con­fer­ence fo­cused on cre­at­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties, by pro­mot­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and so­cial sus­tain­abil­ity within the tourism in­dus­try.

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