Bhutan welcomes again vacationers after COVID with honey, turmeric and SIM playing cards

Younger teenage monks on the Thujidrag Gompa in Thimphu, Bhutan.— Unsplash
  • Nation is wedged between China and India.
  • It’s identified for its historic Buddhist tradition.
  • About 315,600 vacationers visited in 2019.

KATHMANDU: Twenty-three international guests landed in Bhutan on Friday, the primary to reach because the Himalayan kingdom reopened its borders after greater than two years following the COVID-19 pandemic, with officers trying to tourism to assist revive the native economic system.

Wedged between China and India, the nation identified for its pure magnificence and historic Buddhist tradition, first opened to rich vacationers in 1974. In March 2020 it shut its borders to guests — a significant supply of revenue — after detecting its first case of COVID-19.

The constitutional monarchy of fewer than 800,000 folks has reported simply over 61,000 infections and solely 21 deaths, however the $3 billion economic system contracted within the final two fiscal years, pushing extra folks into poverty.

“Tourism for us is extra than simply income,” stated Dorji Dhradhul, Director Common of the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), after receiving the primary guests on the nation’s solely worldwide airport at Paro, close to the capital metropolis of Thimphu.

He stated the tiny nation was eager to be “very a lot part of the entire world”.

“We really feel by way of tourism we will do this … reap the benefits of their assist and goodwill,” he instructed Reuters from Bhutan, referring to the worldwide neighborhood.

Every customer who arrived aboard the primary flight from Kathmandu in neighbouring Nepal was provided small packs of natural honey, tea, Bhutanese turmeric and an area SIM card all in a tote bag as a present, the authorities stated.

In July, Bhutan raised its Sustainable Growth Charge to $200 per customer per night time from the $65 it had charged for 3 a long time saying it was eager to welcome extra vacationers who may spend cash.

Officers stated the charges can be spent on tasks like planting timber, upskilling tourism staff, sustaining mountaineering trails, lowering reliance on fossil fuels and electrifying transportation automobiles to offset vacationers’ carbon footprints.

About 315,600 vacationers visited in 2019, up 15.1% from the yr earlier than, with guests contributing about $84 million on common every year to the economic system for the three years earlier than the pandemic hit, TCB information confirmed.

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