Returnees from abroad despair at unemployment

Tourists will need guides

The department of tourism (DoT) has said that words doing the round that very soon tourists will no longer need compulsory guides is not true. Additionally, stakeholders of the industry say that guides are very important and doing away with the policy of compulsory guides would be a dent on Bhutan’s tourism policy.

Officiating director, department of tourism (DoT), Damchoe Rinzin said there are no policies discussed or planned to do away with the requirement of tourists to have compulsory guides. “It is not true,” he clarified.

Chairman and Founder of the Guides Association of Bhutan (GAB), Garab Dorji, said tour guides play a crucial role in the tourism industry, acting as ambassadors for destinations and providing valuable insights and experiences to travelers. “I do not think I need to elaborate on the importance of guides. Tourists themselves will say how important guides are,” he added, underlining he is not saying so because he is GAB’s Chairman, but because several tourists have told him about the “value” that guides add.

All guides may not be equally competent, but all possess extensive knowledge about the destinations they serve, including historical, cultural, and geographical information. “This expertise enriches visitors’ experiences by providing insights and context that enhance their understanding and appreciation of the destination,” Garab added.

Speaking about safety and security, he said that guides ensure the safety and security of tourists by providing guidance on navigating unfamiliar places, avoiding potential risks, and offering assistance in case of emergencies. “We have had several experiences where guides had to take tourists to the hospital, sometimes very late at night,” he said.

“If there are no guides with tourists, all Bhutanese should know several languages or tourists should know several dialects of Bhutan,” Tashi Tshering, a businessman said. “Guides are fluent in multiple languages and facilitate communication between tourists and locals, overcoming language barriers and enhancing the overall travel experience. In doing so, Tour guides offer in-depth knowledge about the attractions, history, culture, and local customs of the destination, enriching the travel experience for visitors.”

Sonam Dorji, a guide said that he knows how important guides are. “Tourists see the country through our eyes. We are the main ambassadors. If there are no guides, I do not know what would be communicated to our guests.”

He also said that guides tailor the tour experience to the interests and preferences of the group, ensuring that travelers get the most out of their visit. “We facilitate cultural exchange by bridging the gap between travelers and local communities, fostering understanding and appreciation of different cultures,” he said, adding that tour guides offer in-depth knowledge about the attractions, history, culture, and local customs of the destination, enriching the travel experience for visitors.

By Sherab Dorji, Thimphu