Sunday, April 21, 2024

TOURISM: Confusion & Misunderstanding Galore!

It is truly heartbreaking - the level of confusion and misunderstanding in the government, surrounding tourism. Take, for instance, the following report in TheBhutanese:

The government asserts that “they are ready to provide subsidy for tourism marketing”. To my knowledge, no such plea was ever made to the government by the tourism industry. Such a request would be baseless because the industry is in no confusion whatsoever - between the usefulness of “Marketing” as opposed to the long-standing need for “Promotion”.

And, to set the record straight, the tourism industry was never in opposition of the imposition of higher SDF – in fact the popular view among the stakeholders has always been that it was about time that the SDF was enhanced to a more appropriate level. Thus, there is no need for the government to caution the industry that they are “not willing to change SDF related policies”.

Who is asking for it?

Also, just to be sure that everybody is on the same page, no government help was ever sought to change anything that did not need changing. The industry’s submission has been that they change “only those policies that absolutely needed changing”.

Brand Bhutan needs no marketing. In the most far flung regions of the world, Bhutan is celebrated for our pristine environment, stunning snow-laden mountain peaks, uninterrupted biological corridors for the severely threatened wild tigers to roam freely, smiling people, exceptional variety of rare avifauna; as a country reputed to be among the only carbon negative nations of the world and, for our enduring image as a country where GNH flourishes unabated.

Brand BHUTAN is shining like the Sirius in the night sky - what has sorely been lacking is targeted P~R~O~M~O~T~I~O~N!! But that has so far been a dream consigned to another lifetime.

On June 22, 2022 even as the catastrophic Tourism Levy Bill of Bhutan 2022 was at the verge of being passed into law - Bhutan’s only sustainable tourism specialist went on record, through the KUENSEL, to ask boldly:

“Are we in a tourism crisis or are we creating one?”

Alas! the timely note of warning was ignored; the ruinous Tourism Levy Act of Bhutan 2022 was passed into law, and the all-important tourism industry was driven into the ground - in its wake dashing dreams and robbing livelihoods and triggering exodus of human migrations that we can never ever hope to reverse!

Tourism is an economic activity that keeps every hearth burning, every door open, every dream within reach, every hope alive and every wail of anguish and pain subdued.

Irresponsibility in this sector is criminal.

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