Countries all over the globe have taken different stances on when and how to open up to foreign visitors. Bhutan has become the latest to outline its plans, stating that for the time being, there is no set date for when the country will open its borders.
Addressing the moves taken by other countries, Dorji Dhradhul, director general of the Tourism Council of Bhutan told Lonely Planet, “while we also hope for the quick restart and reopening of our tourism, it is of course dependent on positive developments globally. Therefore, we do not have a date set for reopening as yet.” Mr Dhradhul also said that Bhutan has been blessed with only a limited number of COVID-19 cases, all imported with no local transmission and no loss of life.
One of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel picks for this year, Bhutan opened to foreign tourists in the 1970s, with a “High Value, Low Volume” policy that always aimed to avoid mass tourism. “It aspires to give exclusive experience to tourists by managing the volume. It is about sustainable tourism. It's about pursuing tourism under the framework of the development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Against this backdrop, we believe that the restart of tourism to Bhutan is likely to be easier than it will be for other travel destinations.”
The country will continue with this plan once it does open up again, with safety measures set by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health which will be put in place for all tourism service providers. A contact tracing app is already in use nationwide. Currently, the international borders are closed, except for the movement of essential goods, and the repatriation of Bhutanese from overseas. Bhutan is also implementing 21-day quarantines as of now, while others implement 14-day quarantines.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan said that it sees opportunity in the current crisis for the country to further embrace the travel trend of wellness, and think of positive ways to promote the destination as a place where people can reflect, rest and relax.
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