Main reason(s) for Bhutan travel restrictions?
Replies: 46 - Last Post: Mar 31, 2013 6:33 AM Last Post By: gk9000
Jan 24, 2013 5:19 PM
Main reason(s) for Bhutan travel restrictions?I've been curious to know the main reasons why Bhutan does not permit independent travel. Are these mainly financial (to generate money for the government and the guides they approve), cultural (to prevent Bhutan from becoming like the touristed parts Thailand), or political?
Do people expect these restrictions to be lifted in the foreseeable future?
Thanks for any information or insights.
Jan 24, 2013 8:14 PM
Jan 24, 2013 11:47 PM
2Very simply if Bhutan did not impose restricitons it would be overwhelmed by mass tourism. Just look at Thamel and Pokhara in Nepal to know what the Bhutan government does not want.
It's highly unlikely Bhutan will ever allow tourists to visit without being on some kind of a package.
Bear in mind around US$60 goes straight into the Bhutan government's coffers for every day you spend there. In all other respects a tour package to Bhuatan is reasonably priced.
Jan 25, 2013 2:50 AM
3it is a fantastic policy
it would be dreadful to see Bhutan overwhelmed
if only other governments around the world had some foresight
Jan 25, 2013 5:31 AM
4You have answered your questions yourself.
Bhutan is a very small country with a unique culture, that had stayed isolated from the rest of the world for centuries. A sudden massive influx of tourists would pose a major threat to its culture and peaceful life of the people and their cultural values.
Bhutan hadn't had tv until 1999. And, of course, no internet either.
Jan 25, 2013 7:57 PM
5Thanks for the responses. Given what I've seen in a number of other Asian countries, some of which I've thought might have been better off if they hadn't been discovered by Western visitors, I can easily understand the points made above. I'm glad to learn that Bhutan's travel restrictions exist for the purpose of preserving the culture, rather than, or at least more than, the other possibilities mentioned in my OP. But I confess to being a bit of a hypocrite, though, since if Bhutan did open up I'd head there as soon as I could.
Jan 25, 2013 8:21 PM
Jan 25, 2013 9:57 PM
7The travel agencies in Bhutan operate on no higher margins than anywhere else. So any premium goes direct to the government (i.e. not to greedy individuals or travel agents). Given that the Bhutan govt's finances are probably as transparent as one can hope for, your money is being well put to use. You need to view it as 'development aid'.
Jan 25, 2013 11:29 PM
8Farflung, it's not a question for me of how well my money would be used. It's a matter of not having this kind of money to spend on a visit that would be long enough to be worth doing.
As a matter of curiosity, to what extent do Western visitors to Bhutan have opportunities to interact with local people of their own choosing, outside the presence of their guide?.
Jan 26, 2013 3:14 AM
Jan 26, 2013 4:56 AM
10Because you travel by private car and have your accomodation pre-booked and meals arranged clearly one has less direct contact with the locals than if one was travelling independently.
Your guide will attend to all your requirements, but in no way will deter you from striking up a conversation with anyone.
Jan 26, 2013 12:04 PM
11Thanks, Farflung & Cowantimmy for the above responses. It's too bad I'm not able to visit Bhutan under the current circumstances, but I appreciate the reasons for them.
Jan 27, 2013 5:47 PM
12Get a bunch of Bhutanese drunk in bar in Thimpu and you will get a more insightful response.
Jan 28, 2013 3:33 PM
Jan 28, 2013 3:56 PM
If you spent half an hour with a bunch of Bhutanese in a bar in Thimpu, struggling with the language barrier, what was the more insightful response you got?
Anyway, I'd rather go to Sikkim (now part of India) or even Nepal, to enjoy unrestricted travel at less than 1/3rd of what I'd have to pay for the same in Bhutan.
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