Bhutan plans to slowly restart tourism

Bhutan, a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas, is planning to restart tourism in the near future and is in the process of developing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for all the stakeholders to keep both tourists and the people safe from COVID

Feb 25, 2021
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Bhutan, a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas, is planning to restart tourism in the near future and is in the process of developing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for all the stakeholders to keep both tourists and the people safe from COVID.

The Buddhist kingdom, known for its monasteries, fortresses, and dramatic landscapes, may open up for tourists in another three to four months.

According to the Director-General of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, Dorji Dhradhul, they have already started the process of developing SOP for the major stakeholders.

“Once we reopen (tourism), we are going to have a list of do’s and don’ts for hotels, guides, tour operators, airport staff and for transport,” he was quoted by The Bhutanese newspaper.

He agreed that while it is important to open tourism, it is, however, has to be done carefully.

“We are losing the economic opportunities for a greater cause. We don’t want to take a risk. Therefore, we are not competing with other countries to open up fast. We don’t want to compete with other countries in trying to open fast. We are not in the rat race, and we have never been in the rat race from the early 70s,” he said.

The decision to open tourism will be taken carefully based on facts and figures. “We do not see any immediate plans to open tourism for the next three months,” he added.  The decision in this regard will also depend on when all the people are vaccinated.

“It is not only about getting infected but we don’t want to give it to others,” he said.

He said one of the things they will make compulsory for tourists will be a mandatory vaccine certificate and negative PCR test carried out 72 hours prior to entering the country.

Once in the country, tourists will also be required to undergo a test and a repeat test after five days.

“Going forward after three months, maybe the number of days for mandatory quarantine might decrease or maybe it will not be necessary. But as of today, tourists will have to go through 21 days mandatory quarantine,” Dhradhul added.

“..even if we open after four months, we would still recommend the tourists not to mix with the crowd.”

A comprehensive tourism policy was approved on January 5, 2021 by the government.

“When we say tourism policy has been approved, we are not saying that there was never a tourism policy – we are just saying it has been formalized,” he said.

 “We are going to make Bhutan –the world’s number one destination. Bhutan is going to feature in the world of tourism on top. And for that, we need to be very special so it is supported by this policy.”

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