String of events lined up to mark golden jubilee of tourism in Bhutan

Focus on high-value, low volume & sustainability to continue
/ New Delhi
Bhutan celebrates golden jubilee of tourism from June 2-December 17
String of events lined up to mark golden jubilee of tourism in Bhutan

Bhutan’s tourism journey began five decades ago in 1974

As Bhutan completes 50 years of inbound tourism, the Department of Tourism of Bhutan has unveiled a campaign to commemorate the golden jubilee of tourism in the Dragon Kingdom, with festivities that began on June 2 and will go on until Bhutanese National Day on December 17.
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Celebrating 50 years of tourism in the Land of Dragon, Bhutan’s Department of Tourism has launched a campaign commemorating golden jubilee in the Kingdom since it opened its doors to the world in 1974.

According to a press statement by Bhutan Tourism, the festivities had commenced on June 2 and extend over a six-month period, culminating on December 17, marking the Bhutanese National Day.

The statement adds that Bhutan’s tourism journey began five decades ago in 1974, coinciding with the coronation of the fourth King of Bhutan. 

Bhutan embraced a policy of high value and low volume tourism

It says that from the very beginning, Bhutan embraced a policy of high value, low volume tourism, and has remained committed to sustainable tourism long before it became a global trend.

This approach, it says, is aimed to generate revenue from tourism while also sharing Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage with the world, ensuring a balanced and mindful development of its tourism sector.

The board says that the first group of tourists to Bhutan consisted of eight Americans, five Spaniards and one Argentinian, who undertook a long and challenging journey by road, as no airlines were operational at that time. 

Bhutan Tourism says that like these pioneering 14 visitors, the allure and unique charm of  the Himalayan kingdom went on to draw hundreds more guests in the following years. However, it was with the launch of Bhutan’s national airline, Drukair in 1983, that tourism truly flourished, making travel to and from Bhutan significantly more accessible.

The statement adds that over the years, Bhutan has steadily welcomed more visitors, with a peak in 2019 at around 320,000 tourists. Bhutan is the only country in the world to implement a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) for all visitors, which is currently charged at USD 100 per adult, per night and go towards various initiatives like preserving the country’s pristine environment, maintaining its cultural heritage, providing free health care and education for all Bhutanese, and supporting sustainable development projects that benefit local communities.

Tshering Tobgay

Tshering Tobgay

“We are immensely proud to celebrate 50 years of tourism in Bhutan. This milestone is a celebration of what has been achieved since Bhutan opened its doors to the world, establishing itself as a unique, transformative and sustainable destination. As we honour the past five decades, we also look forward to a future where sustainable tourism continues to enrich our nation and connect us with the world.  Join us to celebrate this important milestone,” says Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan.

The statement says that to commemorate the golden jubilee of tourism, the Department of Tourism in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders and the private sector, will run a series of engaging activities throughout the campaign period.

The events include a blessing ceremony that was held at Kuensel Phodrang, Buddha Dordenma statue, in Thimphu recently to formally launch the celebration.

The statement adds that Bhutan will also launch its first ever tourism awards in August, celebrating excellence and innovation in Bhutan’s tourism sector. 

The statement adds that event will showcase Bhutanese-inspired craftsmanship and design over the past fifty years with jewellery collection and fashion Show.

It adds that the events will also include global embassy events, where Bhutanese embassies worldwide will host media and travel trade to learn about Bhutan’s past and future tourism.

The board says it will also work with districts, called Dzongkhags locally, to help tell their own stories relating to tourism over the past 50 years. 

Beyond this, the board also plans to create content that tells the stories of Bhutan’s past 50 years of tourism, showcasing images, videos, experiences and memories to be used across all marketing channels, as well as a new brand film, a printed magazine, a coffee table book, a mini-documentary and posters.

The tourism board says it will also undertake industry collaboration by launching new itineraries, the introduction of a loyalty programme, and working with the tourism industry to include the 50 years celebration into the guest experience, among other projects.

Namgyal Dorji

Namgyal Dorji

“Our journey from welcoming the first tourists in 1974 to today becoming a globally admired and aspirational destination is remarkable. This celebration is a tribute to all guests who have visited us, and everyone who has contributed to our tourism sector, and we are excited to showcase Bhutan’s heritage and vision for the future to the global community,” says Namgyal Dorji, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Employment (MoICE).

“As experienced by the first 14 guests, Bhutan continues to enchant visitors with its breathtaking natural beauty, rich and immersive culture, its strong spiritual offerings and its excellent guest experience. Equally captivating is the warm welcome and genuine hospitality of the Bhutanese people. As the only country that incorporates happiness as a development philosophy and one of the three carbon-negative nations in the world, Bhutan truly offers a unique and enriching experience for every traveller,” he adds.

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