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Kingdom of Bhutan opens borders for ‘int’l tourism’; Fees raised to fund programs

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KUWAIT CITY, Oct 22: The Kingdom of Bhutan has reopened its borders to international tourism as of September 22, 2022 after Covid- 19 disrupted life all over the world. This was disclosed by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bhutan to Kuwait, HE Chitim Tenzin. During a press conference he disclosed, a new tourism strategy adopted by his country, supported by transformations in three main areas, what he called the reinforcements for sustainable development policies, infrastructure, and raising the level of guest experience, pointing out that Bhutan’s policy of high-value tourism has existed since the kingdom began welcoming “our guests in 1974.” He said, Bhutan recently announced that it would raise its Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) from $65 to $200 per person, per night, which will go towards projects that support Bhutan’s economic, social, environmental and cultural development.

Ambassador of Bhutan to Kuwait HE Chitim Tenzin addressing the media

National investment
The fees raised will fund national investment in programs that preserve Bhutan’s cultural traditions, as well as sustainability projects, infrastructure upgrades and opportunities for youth – as well as providing free healthcare and education for all. For instance, some of the Sustainable Development Fee funds go towards offsetting the carbon footprint of visitors by planting trees, upskilling workers in the tourism sector, cleaning and maintaining trails, reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and electrifying Bhutan’s transportation sector, among other projects.

He disclosed about 300 Kuwaitis visited Bhutan during the years preceding the pandemic in addition to official visits from the Kuwaiti government officials and added, it takes about five working days to get a visa to visit Bhutan, noting that Indians alone do not need a visa to enter Bhutan. When asked about opening direct flights to Bhutan, HE Tenzin, explained Kuwaiti-Bhutanese talks in this regard were stalled due to the outbreak of the pandemic but are now in advanced stage.

He called on the Kuwaitis to increase visits to his country, saying the country is distinct and the weather is suitable throughout the year. He stated during a special ceremony, “Bhutan Believe,” brand was launched and is optimistic about renewing the Kingdom’s ambitious plans as it opens its doors to receive guests again through various ways. He added, the tourism infrastructure is at its best and there are a number of international hotels to suit everyone’s needs, in addition to the good hospitality that the Bhutanese have on offer.

He said his country, which has a population of about 750,000 citizens, is characterized by its innovative policies related to gross domestic happiness, similar to the gross domestic product, and is famous for being a land where joy prevails through the level of health, education, community vitality, and protection of the land and nature reserves.