PM requests stakeholders of Thai Tourism Industry to promote Bhutan

PM requests stakeholders of Thai Tourism Industry to promote Bhutan

Brimming with smile from beginning till the end of a short but precise and powerful interaction during a reception with Thai tour operators, travel agents and Airlines on June 26th 2024, Prime Minister (PM) Dasho Tshering Tobgay requested all present at the reception to help promote Bhutan as a tourism destination for Thai people.
“You don’t need to promote Thailand. The world knows about amazing Thailand. Bhutan knows about amazing Thailand. Almost every Bhutanese who can afford it has come to Thailand, to go to school, hospital, to go to the malls, to go to the beach,” the PM said, adding that while every Bhutanese knows about Thailand, “very few Thais know about Bhutan.” “Please help me promote Bhutan,” the PM said, while reminding the crowd that this year Bhutan and Thailand celebrates the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
The Bhutanese PM asked how many from those at the reception had visited Bhutan. Looking at the very few numbers, he asked, how they could help promote Bhutan by convincing others if they had themselves not visited Bhutan. The PM requested them to visit Bhutan and to help get as many Thais as possible also to visit Bhutan.
Bringing the personal touch into his speech, the Bhutanese PM said he wanted to get as many people from Thailand to visit Bhutan, not just because tourism is good for the revenue and business, but because the two countries share many things in common. “Thailand and Bhutan must exchange visits, strengthen people to people contact and build strong lasting relationship for the next 35 years,” he said.
Meanwhile at home, the National Assembly’s discussions on tourism went deep down to details. Bhutan welcomed 64,941 tourists from January to May, generating about USD 16.02 Million in the first five months of this year. According to Namgyal Dorji, the Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Employment (MoICE), the 13th Five Year Plan (FYP) aims to generate between Nu 14 billion (B) and Nu 15 billion (B). The Minister stated, “We aim to generate about Nu 70B to Nu 80B in the next ten years.” Additionally, the government plans to allocate about Nu 2.5B from the Economic Stimulus Plan budget to support the tourism industry.
The Minister emphasized that the tourism industry is rebounding, with Bhutan focusing on a High Value Low Volume strategy, which has significantly impacted visitor arrivals. He also highlighted that concession services, including transportation, are available to the tourism sector. “There will be tax concessions while importing vehicles, and the concession also includes special plans to improve human resources in the tourism sector,” he noted. “The current vehicle moratorium does not apply to them.”
The Minister further outlined the government’s goals for the 13th FYP, which include contributing to the nation’s foreign reserves and creating roughly 16% of new employment opportunities in the tourism sector. He assured that the nation’s tourism industry would grow in a balanced manner, benefiting all citizens equally.
“For regional balanced tourism, the government has planned about USD 400M from the Global Environment Fund (GEF) for the five eastern districts of the country,” the Minister said. He explained that current policies are more flexible compared to the past. For example, taxi drivers can now offer transportation services to tourists, and it is no longer mandatory for an agent to provide a vehicle for tourists. Similarly, hotels can now bring tourists directly to their establishments without relying solely on company agents.
“This approach ensures that all sectors and regions gain equal opportunities and development,” the Minister added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DoT) continues its marketing outreach through dedicated marketing campaigns, digital campaigns, sales activities, events, roadshows, and advertising. The DoT is committed to showcasing Bhutan and attracting visitors through various activities, including targeted digital marketing campaigns to raise awareness about Bhutan as a tourist destination in key source markets.
“We run digital marketing campaigns and engage in aggressive social media promotion while producing creative content and visuals. We are also promoting Bhutan as a destination for MICE, wellness, and weddings,” an official from the DoT said. The official mentioned that the DoT has developed marketing and promotion activities, including public relations (PR) and sales representatives in key source markets, utilizing the press, key opinion leaders, and influencers.
“Destination training and awareness webinars are held, and regular newsletters and press releases are published to highlight attractions, events, and experiences,” the official added.
Moreover, the sustainable development fee (SDF) waiver for Indian visitors staying for a day has been extended until August 2027.

By Sherab Dorji, Thimphu