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Sustainable Tourism

Since it opened its doors to the international tourists, Bhutan has been following controlled tourism strategy focused on sustainability and quality. This has secured the country’s reputation as an exclusive and distinctive destination to the few tourists who could come and explored the unspoiled country.  The country’s framework for development of tourism underpinned by Gross National Happiness (GNH) ensured the long-term sustainability of the industry and contribution to the economy. In doing so Bhutan enjoys a reputation for authenticity, remoteness and well protected cultural heritage and natural environment.

According to Tourism Council of Bhutan tourism industry in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability, meaning that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable. Towards achieving this objective, the Royal Government, has adopted a very cautious approach to growth and development of the tourism industry in Bhutan. Aware that an unrestricted flow of tourists could negatively impact Bhutan’s pristine environment and unique culture, the government adopted a policy of ‘high-value, low-volume’ tourism in order to control the type and quantity of tourism right from the start.

In a very sustainable way, tourism has helped Bhutan’s culture and traditions promoted to the outside world. Today the tourism has been diversified from mostly cultural tourists, sightseers and trekkers to special interests such as sports and adventure tourism, to ecotourism and nature-based tourism.

Bhutan is now expanding its tourism industry. It is allowing more people in, promoting itself as a year-round destination and introducing more airline routes to make it more accessible. The government hopes a carefully managed tourism policy that supports sustainable development should bring increased income and create new jobs.

Tourist numbers spike during major religious festivals and money feeds into local economies. Promoting the local culture to tourists, holding cultural events and focusing on community-based tourism is helping communities preserve and develop Bhutan's culture, particularly among Bhutanese youth, enabling them to earn an income at the same time.
Bhutan’s main tourism attractions are its traditional culture and way of life, its religious festivals, historic monuments and its pristine environment. Protecting nature and culture is part of the Bhutanese value system and is an important aspect of the traditional way of life in Bhutan, and its tourism policy reflects these concerns. The policy of imposing a US$ 250 per person per day tariff (including a US$ 65 royalty charged by the government plus food, accommodation, local transport and guides) has succeeded in providing a source of government income for education, health and building tourism and transport infrastructure, while at the same time making tourism in Bhutan an exclusive and distinctive experience.

The Tourism Council of Bhutan works in close cooperation with the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators, the Hotel Association of Bhutan and the Guide Association of Bhutan to establish a channel for closer and more effective collaboration between the tourism industry and the Department of Tourism. It also ensures that the interests of the private sector are represented in developing tourism in a sustainable and responsible manner. The government encourages initiatives to enable the private sector to provide value for money to their clients. For example, new luxury hotels, the upgrading of existing hotels and foreign direct investment are encouraged through tax and fiscal incentives.  
With ecotourism being the fastest grow­ing market in the tourism industry in general and with the strength of the country’s nat­ural assets, Bhutan has focused on strategies to promote and develop its ecotourism and nature -based tourism.

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