More than 3,500 holders of tourism licenses must compete

Dochula Pass an important tourist destination

STAFF REPORTER

Thimphu

In order to compete, more than 3,500 licensed operators will need to offer high-quality services, programs, and facilities while providing tourists autonomy over their itineraries.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs will grant operator’s licenses based on a TCB certification given to applicants who match the requirements, claims the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB). The so-called briefcase operators are anticipated to be replaced by real players who will be pushed to improve their level of service.

The TCB’s news release from July 20 highlighted the topic of the tourist sector since it is one that is being discussed by families, friends, communities, the government, and society at large.

“TCB is aware that the tourist business is currently a topic for discussion among families, friends, communities, government, and society at large,” the press statement reads. “We are also aware that official statements and explanations on the government’s recent changes in Bhutan’s tourism are occasionally accompanied by rumours fed by false speculations, it continues.

The TCB stated that this is an attempt to look at some urgent issues on tourism that are being asked and need to be answered. The government is currently dealing with the challenges of disinformation and queries overwhelming responses.

The press release from the TCB states that the operators, hoteliers, and guides are the service providers most directly impacted on a practical level. Additionally impacted, either directly or indirectly, are restaurants, handicrafts, and transportation services. For operators, TCB said that tour to Bhutan confirmed before 20June are permitted at the old rates.

It states that as of July 19, it was reported that the TCB had received approximately 500 applications from tourists who would be unable to travel to Bhutan after 6 March, 2020, due to the impact on tourism. For this, the TCB will evaluate the proof of legitimate applications.

They have until 28 July to file the applications, and they have until 31 December next year, to arrange for their tourists to travel to Bhutan.

It further stated that, subject to the stipulations, including the use of the amended SDF rate of USD 200 and Nu 1200, TCB will facilitate visits up until 23 September. After 23 September, a new method for processing visa applications with payment of the visa fee and SDF will be in use.

The press statement notes that in addition to current procedures and requirements, these visitors must pay the required entrance price through TCB until 23 September. At that point, a permanent system will be in place.

While TCB establishes new requirements for a genuine Bhutanese experience, it also stated that the idea of a luxury hotel will be reinvented. This entails high-quality conditions and services, clear service policies, and specified Bhutanese standards. According to the TCB, “all lodging for visitors will be approved based on their readiness in terms of the services and amenities given, and all visitors must stay in certified hotels what was formerly known as three star and higher.

More than 3,000 Bhutanese tour guides would receive professional training, renew or upgrade their certifications as guides. According to the press release, guides are crucial so that visitors can have an enjoyable experience rather than being followed about all the time. “The success of certified guides would depend on their ability and competency, and they would be published on TCB’s destination portal.

The news announcement said, “Guests can also choose guides through travel agencies, hotels, or personal connections or relationships.”

Additionally, it mentions that rules are being developed for all forms of transportation, dining establishments, the handicrafts sector, and other facets of society that are either directly or indirectly related to the tourism industry. There will be quality rental standards for all transportation modes, restaurants to ensure a culture of healthy, safe and adverse menus, and handicrafts that are genuine Bhutanese and of good quality.

The new approach to tourism in Bhutan, on the other hand, aims to improve both the sector and the travel experience in Bhutan through fair and healthy competition. Service providers would be urged to keep raising the quality of their offerings, 23 September as a starting point.

According to the TCB, all laws would be closely followed and applied in coordination with the tourism industry. But according to TCB, cooperation between the government and service providers is more crucial if Bhutan is to be a place that truly reflects lofty ideals.