Domestic tourism products launched

Domestic tourism comprises activities of a resident visitor within the country of reference

Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) in collaboration with the Zhung Dratshang, Department of Culture (DoC) and National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS) have developed ‘Druk Neykor’, a unique tourism program targeting both international and domestic travelers.

Coinciding with the National Day on December 17, the TCB launched Druk Neykor: Pilgrimage Travel Program, Druk Kora: domestic tourism campaign, domestic tourism guidelines and the food map of Bhutan.

Druk Neykor The Druk Neykor is a nationwide pilgrimage tourism program, which entails visiting 108 temples and sacred sites covering all 20 Dzongkhags. This unique program aspires to promote the pilgrims, enhance visitor experience, contribute to the regional spread of tourism and promote cultural conservation for sustainable tourism.

To kick start Druk Neykor, 16 sites in Thimphu have been selected and developed. These sites will later form a part of 108 temples selected from the remaining 19 dzongkhags.

Druk Kora Due to overdependence on international tourism, developing countries like Bhutan have not been able to tap the true potential of domestic tourism. Therefore, taking the opportunity presented by COVID-19 pandemic, TCB has developed Druk Kora a domestic tourism campaign to promote domestic tourism and motivate locals to explore the country and support local tourism businesses.

The objective is to establish the potential of domestic tourism, to assess travel patterns of domestic tourists, including expatriates, to identify products and destinations in the country that are particularly appealing to different segments of the domestic markets, to accelerate recovery of tourism and offer employment opportunities, to encourage domestic tourism for businesses and to motivate locals to explore the country and support local tourism businesses.

The Druk Kora campaign includes incentives. For instance, to push travel to potential places that do not receive many tourists through licensed travel operators, a travel voucher, worth Nu 5,000 will be provided to 100 people/family. The travel vouchers will be paid directly to the travel company on the completion of the trip.

The other incentive includes encouraging domestic tourists to purchase local products in places that do not benefit from tourism-TCB will offer certain percentage rebates to the highest spender.

TCB will collaborate with the domestic tour organizers and support them in subsidizing the cost for transportation as an incentive for organizing the travel. The payment will be made after the completion of the travel.

This will be offered to selected destinations, especially those places that do not benefit much from tourism.

TCB will initiate a scheme of free journeys as a part of a wider package to promote domestic tourism and provide local travel experiences to a select group of people. Domestic Tourism guideline In absence of international tourists, Bhutan has seen increasing number of domestic tourists trekking and visiting religious sites and several tour organizers have also started arranging domestic trips/tours. However, domestic tourism is largely unregulated and has led to issues related to littering, pollution, safety and standards of services offered to visitors.

Therefore, in order to facilitate and streamline domestic tourism in the country, TCB in consultation with relevant governmental agencies and sector associations has developed a guideline on Management of Domestic tourism 2020.

The main objectives of the guideline are to promote and facilitate sustainable development of domestic tourism, to improve safety and service delivery and enhance overall travel experience.

Domestic tourism comprises activities of a resident visitor within the country of reference.

According to the guideline, it is recommended to use TCB-certified accommodations for better services and better experience. It is also recommended to use licensed guide services for safety and better travel experience.

Food Map of Bhutan The Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH) has developed the Food Map of Bhutan to celebrate the 40th birth anniversary of His Majesty the King.

The Food Map of Bhutan is expected to promote the culinary heritage of Bhutan. It is also developed to preserve and disseminate information on Bhutanese Food of 20 dzongkhags to future visitors and the people of Bhutan so that they can continue to keep the Bhutanese food tradition alive. The Food Map of Bhutan consists of 74 food items in the 20 dzongkhags and 48 common Bhutanese Food, appetizers and beverages.

Dechen Dolker from Thimphu