The Kingdom of Bhutan reopened its borders to international guests following the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has unveiled a new tourism strategy, underpinned by transformations in three key areas: enhancements to its sustainable development policies, infrastructure upgrades, and the elevation of the guest experience.
During a special ceremony in the capital city Thimphu on 25 September 2022, a new brand for Bhutan was also unveiled by H.E. Dr. Lotay Tshering, Honorable Prime Minister, in the presence of other government officials and dignitaries. “Brand Bhutan” aims to capture the optimism and renewed ambition of the kingdom as it opens its doors to guests once again, as well as communicating its promise and plans for its young citizens. Bhutan’s new tagline, “Believe,” reflects this determined focus on the future, as well as the transformative journeys experienced by its guests.
Bhutan recently announced that it would raise its Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) from US$65 to US$200 per person, per night, which will go towards projects that support Bhutan's economic, social, environmental and cultural development projects.
As a country that is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, experiencing melting glaciers, floods and unpredictable weather patterns, Bhutan will also be stepping up its efforts to maintain its status as one of only a handful of carbon-negative countries in the world – in 2021, Bhutan sequestered 9.4 million tons of carbon against its emission capacity of 3.8 million tons.
In line with this, the government used the period during the COVID-19 shutdown to upgrade roads, trails, temples and monuments around the country, upgrade public bathroom facilities, organize trash clean-up events, and enhance the standards and certification process for tourism service providers such as hotels, guides, tour operators and drivers. Employees across the tourism industry were required to participate in upskilling programs to focus on enhancing service quality.
The revamp of Bhutan’s tourism comes amid a widespread “transformation project” rolled out across the country, from the civil service to the financial sector. The changes are geared towards developing Bhutan’s human capital by equipping the population with more proficient skills, knowledge and experiences.