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Bhutan welcomes again vacationers after COVID-19 with honey, turmeric and SIM playing cards

KATHMANDU: Twenty-three overseas guests landed in Bhutan on Friday (Sep 23), the primary to reach because the Himalayan kingdom reopened its borders after greater than two years following the COVID-19 pandemic, with officers seeking to tourism to assist revive the native economic system.

Wedged between China and India, the nation identified for its pure magnificence and historical Buddhist tradition, first opened to rich vacationers in 1974. In March 2020 it shut its borders to guests – a significant supply of earnings – after detecting its first case of COVID-19.

The constitutional monarchy of fewer than 800,000 folks has reported simply over 61,000 infections and solely 21 deaths, however the US$three billion economic system contracted within the final two fiscal years, pushing extra folks into poverty.

“Tourism for us is extra than simply income,” mentioned Dorji Dhradhul, director common of the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), after receiving the primary guests on the nation’s solely worldwide airport at Paro, close to the capital metropolis of Thimphu.

He mentioned the tiny nation was eager to be “very a lot part of the entire world”.

“We really feel by means of tourism we are able to try this … benefit from their assist and goodwill,” he advised Reuters from Bhutan, referring to the worldwide group.

Every customer who arrived aboard the primary flight from Kathmandu in neighbouring Nepal was provided small packs of natural honey, tea, Bhutanese turmeric and an area SIM card all in a tote bag as a present, the authorities mentioned.

In July, Bhutan raised its Sustainable Improvement Price to US$200 per customer per evening from the US$65 it had charged for 3 many years saying it was eager to welcome extra vacationers who may spend cash.

Officers mentioned the charges could be spent on initiatives like planting bushes, upskilling tourism staff, sustaining mountaineering trails, lowering reliance on fossil fuels and electrifying transportation automobiles to offset vacationers’ carbon footprints.

About 315,600 vacationers visited in 2019, up 15.1 per cent from the 12 months earlier than, with guests contributing about US$84 million on common annually to the economic system for the three years earlier than the pandemic hit, TCB knowledge confirmed.

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