The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) is trying to strongly promote Bhutan as an exclusive destination through Brand Bhutan.
The elements of Brand Bhutan comprise Gross National Happiness, History, Dzongs, Exotic, Shangrila, Exclusive, Pristine Environment, Carbon negative, Culture, and Tradition, Language, Tshechus, People, Vajrayana Buddhism, Vibrant Democracy gifted by Monarchs and Selfless Kings.
Bhutan opened to tourism with the visionary policy of “high-value, low volume” in the early 70s which resulted in creating Brand Bhutan.
The Director General (DG) of TCB, Dorji Dhradhul said that today, they intend to further strengthen this policy with the adoption of an organizational tag line – ‘Taking Tourism to the Top’ which ambitiously aims to make the Kingdom of Bhutan the most exclusive or best travel destination in the world.
The DG mentioned that Brand Bhutan can comprise just an attribute or a combination of characteristics which makes Bhutan unique and stand out among the countries. “In other words, it is the positive reputation our country has earned over the years. It is like the CV of a person.”
“I also believe nation branding is a subset of nation building. Traditionally, nation branding’s main interest was to attract foreign investment, tourists and inbound brain drain. But today, nation branding is becoming more integrated with nation building. It is about building the best image for a nation,” said Dorji Dhradhul.
The DG also said that every Bhutanese needs to know and remember that had it not been for the farsighted tourism policy of “High value, Low Volume”, propounded by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in the early 70s, tourism in Bhutan would not have been the same today.
“We also need to remember with immeasurable gratitude to our beloved Kings all the efforts, sacrifices and decisiveness in resisting the pressures to adopt the liberal tourism policy which is more attractive and popular but unsustainable and shortsighted,” said the DG.
However for tourism purpose, TCB has adopted and promoted the national flower – blue poppy with the tagline – “Happiness is a place” as the Brand for Bhutan Tourism.
This is of course influenced by Gross National Happiness, which could be considered as the mother of Brand Bhutan.
The TCB DG said that while integrity and consistency of the core value or the characteristic of Brand Bhutan is important, some elements can and should change over the years to sync with the changing situation and times. For instance, GNH and the Wangchuck dynasty will always be core components of Brand Bhutan. As nation building is dynamic, so will the brand.
TCB is by default one of the key promoters of Brand Bhutan.
Dorji Dhradhul said that “High value, low volume” tourism means that tourists will have an exclusive experience, which means hospitality and tourism services have to be top class. “This further means, the number of tourists should be guided by the carrying capacity of our goods and services. Therefore, when we talk about exclusive Brand Bhutan, we are also talking about the management of all tourists regardless of their origins.”
According to the DG, TCB hopes to start properly managing the regional tourism with some regulations to start with and hopes to do away the two categories of tourists they have as of today in due course of time,” he said, adding that this means in the near future, they will have just one category of tourist meaning any visitor or guest coming into the country will be labeled as a tourist regardless of their place of origin.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu