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Tourism contributes greatly to the Bhutanese economy. Tourism in Bhutan began in 1974, when the Government of Bhutan, in an effort to raise and generate revenue and to promote the country’s unique culture and traditions to the outside world, opened its isolated country to foreigners. Since then, tourism has grown as a business and has created employment opportunities for many.
The government is committed to building a sustainable tourism industry that is not only financially viable but also one that limits the negative cultural and environmental impacts commonly associated with the culture of mass tourism. By establishing a policy of “High Value, Low Impact’ tourism, the kingdom of Bhutan seeks to ensure that it attracts only the most discerning visitors, ones having a deep respect for cultural values, traditions and the natural environment.
To this end efforts have been made to ensure that even remote areas are publicized and are, thus, able to reap the benefits of tourism, while still respecting their traditions, culture, and natural environment.
Bhutan’s tourism sector is regarded as one of the most exclusive travel destinations in the world. Bhutan enjoys a reputation for authenticity, remoteness, and a well-protected cultural heritage and natural environment.
Today, tourism is a vibrant business, with a high potential for growth and further development. The Royal Government of Bhutan adheres strongly to a policy of ‘High Value, Low Impact’ tourism, which serves the purpose of creating an image of exclusivity and high-yield for Bhutan. Its vision is:
“To foster a vibrant industry as a positive force in the conservation of environment, promotion of cultural heritage, safeguarding sovereign status of the Nation for significantly contributing to Gross National Happiness.”
Towards achieving this objective, the Royal Government, has adopted a very cautious approach to growth and development of the tourism industry in Bhutan. Its tremendous potential as a truly indigenous industry and the clear comparative advantages Bhutan enjoys are compelling reasons to promote Bhutan as a high-end tourist destination in a manner that accords with the tenets of Gross National Happiness.
Thus, the tourism industry in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability: meaning that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable, and economically viable. The Royal Government of Bhutan recognizes that tourism is a world-wide phenomenon and an important means of achieving socioeconomic development particularly for a developing country like Bhutan. It believes that tourism, in affording the opportunity to travel, can help to promote a deeper understanding among people, and to strengthen ties of friendship based on a deeper appreciation and respect for different cultures and lifestyles.