Saturday, October 18, 2014


Tourism's Role in the Economy

All eyes were on the shortage of rupee when the economy suffered a serious blow in 2012 from which it is still recovering. Hydropower, the country’s biggest revenue earner could not fetch enough rupee to finance people’s need. The shock left by the rupee liquidity crisis was felt throughout the country in almost all the sectors of the economy.

But in between all that, the tourism sector continued to grow unharmed, insulated from the economic pains brought about by the shortage of rupee. 

The sector remained insulated from the domestic shocks because it did not have to depend on the local market.

The tourism sector is only affected when there are global economic meltdowns as it depends on the international market.

So far we have been overlooking the benefits of tourism, but now we have realised that tourism contributes a significant chunk to the government revenue. Each year, it fetches over Nu 4B. But the benefit of tourism is not only the revenue it contributes; it has a wide-ranging trickle down effect.

It has helped in reducing unemployment as it employs over 40,000 people. It helps the local hotels, national airlines, vehicle hiring agencies, guides, transportation, shops, consulting firms and travel companies among others.

If the economy functioned like a network of electricity and we take the tourism plug out, many places will be left without light. Without tourism, there will be massive unemployment as there will be no need for travel companies, guides and vehicle hiring agencies.

Each tourist that visits the country is required to pay USD 250 a day as royalty and daily tariff. Last week, more than 5,000 dollar paying tourists visited the country to witness the Thimphu Tshechu.

Therefore these 5,000 tourists were contributing USD 1.2M a day (Nu 76M) to the economy besides creating employment for a large number of Bhutanese.Tourism is the single largest contributor of hard currency to the economy. Most of its earnings are in US dollar.

Therefore it is only in the best interest of the country to promote tourism. However, in doing so, the important thing is our culture and environment is not undermined. Many countries have had experiences of social dislocation and their culture and environment being ruined in pursuit of maximising the benefits from tourism.

Bhutan follows the high value-low impact tourism policy, which basically limits the number of tourists to a few high end by charging expensive rates and allowing them to put up in a minimum of three star hotel. This does not allow many tourists to come into the country, as many cannot afford the daily tariff of USD 250 a day.

The tourism council of Bhutan overlooks and monitors tourism related regulations in the country.

Contributed by Nidup Gyeltshen


  1. I can totally agree with you writings la...NIcely written and articulated ...thanks