“High Value, Low Volume Tourism”
Development in Bhutan is guided by the overarching philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). It pursues a middle path approach, balancing the benefit while causing as little harm as possible to environment and culture. Sustainable eco-tourism in Bhutan is born out of such a noble principle that emphasizes on ‘high value, low volume’ tourism.
For a small country like Bhutan, pegged between giants like India and China, preservation of culture as a national identity has always been given a lot of importance. And especially at a time of rapid globalization, preserving age-old tradition and culture, our unique language and custom and Buddhist practices have attained greater meaning and significance.
The government balances modernization with cultural preservation and development with environment conservation. In our pursuit of economic growth, we don’t want to exhaust our rich cultural heritage and environmental wealth. Ours is a cautious approach to development.
Often, unbridled opening up to commercial tourism elsewhere have had adverse impacts on culture and environment. Bhutan does not want to make the same mistake. Bhutan aspires to become a high-end tourist destination, available for only those who can afford. Visitors pay a minimum tariff of US $ 250 per day, an all inclusive payment for accommodation, meals, guide, travel and Royalty. Tourism is one of the largest generators of foreign exchange for the country’s small economy.
Bhutan opened up to tourism only in 1974. It was only natural for a Kingdom that was in self-imposed isolation for centuries to adopt a cautious tourism policy. Therefore, until recently some of the arcane parts of the country were close to tourism. Even today, mountaineering is not allowed. These are small but important decisions of the government, to prevent commercialism taking over and diluting ancient belief and practices.
In doing so, Bhutan becomes hard-to-get and even more special.