The tourism sector in Bhutan was caught up in an unfortunate crumble since the pandemic hit the country over a year-and-half ago.
Many who work in the tourism and hotel industry were affected while many individuals, youths, in particular, have lost their jobs and now have no way to provide for themselves or their families because of the complete fallout in business.
Despite the tourism industry being the most vibrant sector in Bhutan in the modern era, with subsequent lockdowns and the closed borders tourism in Bhutan has now hit rock-bottom with zero business and growth in the past 18 months.
A Rapid – Economic Impact Assessment (RSEIA) carried out by the government with support from UNDP and other UN agencies revealed that almost one third of respondents lost their jobs or have been put on unpaid leave. The study also found that the impact of COVID-19 pandemic affected at large scale where Tourism remains among the sectors hit hardest.
Bhutan decided to close its international borders after the COVID-19 pandemic first exploded across the globe, and after a visiting American tourist tested positive for the virus. After banning tourism, Bhutan’s government also issued a mandatory three-week quarantine for any residents returning from abroad. This directly affected about 50,000 people working in tourism and its related sectors.
The government for the good cause made all the decisions and this is result why Bhutan did not have high toll of coronavirus fatalities. Bhutan became ab exemplary as COVID-19 as pointed by the global agencies and media.
Now it shows good sign that pandemic hit shall not be static as the government plans to allow international tourist to visit the country. This is a start of good news for the tourism sector.
After more than a year the tourism industry was hit by the pandemic, the country will receive the first and lone tourist next week.
An American tourist visiting the country through an agent will arrive in Bhutan on 9 August. . According to the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), all the tourists will have to apply through a licensed Bhutanese tour operators and need to undergo the 21-day mandatory facility quarantine paid by themselves.
It is learnt that there are many tourists expressing their interest to visit Bhutan. It is good decision that government made. Tourism sector cannot be left affected for long. Yet, complacency should be taken care. As directed by TCB, the tourists should produce COVID-19 certificate besides mandatory quarantine.
The hope of reopening tourism is becoming real by the day. However, extreme caution must be excercised.