World is embracing Bhutan’s “high value, low volume” tourism policy: TCB DG

In the wake of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, countries around the world are exploring new tourism models and Bhutan’s “high value, low volume” policy could be an answer, according to the director general of the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Dorji Dradhul. The models being explored are the ones that take into consideration issues such as sustainability, resilience, inclusiveness, health and happiness, the very parameters on which Bhutan’s “time-tested” tourism policy is based. “I believe this new model of tourism that the world is looking for could be the old model of Bhutan’s high value, low volume tourism. In other words, the world’s new is Bhutan’s old,” he said. On September 27, Bhutan was recognized as one among 75 Most Innovative Organizations in Tourism Policy 2021 by Apolitical, in partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and MasterCard during the World Tourism Day. Organizations were nominated through an open nominations process that included recommendations from individuals, NGOs, organizations, governments, and global leaders. They were ranked and selected by a team of expert reviewers. The mission of Apolitical, founded by mission-driven entrepreneurs and backed by impact investors around the world, is to make the government smarter to solve the world’s hardest challenges. “I believe this recognition is a direct result of our time-tested tourism policy,” said Dorji Dradhul, explaining that the high value, low volume pursuit goes beyond revenue and receipts and thus foregoes the possible quick returns that can be received from mass tourism. In other words, Bhutan has what Dorji Dradhul called “less is more” tourism for which the credit goes to the visionary leadership of the country’s extraordinary Kings. A press release from the TCB stated that Bhutan’s tourism governing body has been upholding Bhutan as one of the most exclusive tourist destinations through its “high-value, low volume” policy. “Even before the pandemic, the global tourism industry has been exploring ways to reshape the way people travel, seeking solutions to minimize impacts of tourism on the environment and opportunities to increase economic justice for tourism communities,” stated the press release. To further reinforce the policy, the TCB was digitalizing tourism services for easy access to services, facilitate smooth travel, and improve transparency. Ensuring the highest level of health safety of tourists and hosts, and improving the standards of services and infrastructures were among other priorities of the TCB. “It is urgent to ensure that the standards of existing facilities and services are re-assessed and improved as we prepare to open Bhutan to tourists,” Dorji Dradhul said, adding: “Bhutan is considered as a safe country because of the good management of COVID-19 and some countries require travellers to stay in a country like Bhutan before visiting another country,”. In 2020, the Lonely Planet named Bhutan as the number one travel destination while another organization, PATWA, branded Bhutan as the number one destination for “happy tourism”. Forbes listed Bhutan as one of the sustainable tourism destinations in the world. Meanwhile, the TCB is mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into tourism development to position itself as “a model ecotourism destination”.