Tourism: Some 34 students from 14 schools in Thimphu participated in the on-the-spot painting competition organised by Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) to celebrate World Tourism Day at Tarayana conference hall yesterday.

The competition’s theme “One billion tourists, One billion opportunities,” was held in three categories. The painting theme for higher secondary school was ‘Buying local or Respect local culture,’ while ‘Save energy’ and ‘Protect heritage’ were the themes for middle and lower secondary schools respectively.

A total of nine winners, three from each category were awarded cash prizes of Nu 10,000 each to the first, Nu 7,000 and Nu 5,000 for second and third winners.

TCB spokesperson Damcho Rinzin said the annual event is celebrated worldwide on September 27 to create awareness on tourism and its impact on social, cultural, environmental, political and economic values.

Home and Cultural affairs secretary Dasho (Dr) Sonam Tenzin said Bhutan had a maximum of about 2,000 tourists coming in every year for a long time and the number was restricted to 2,500 every year because of the fear that many people will come in and destroy the culture, environment, and influence the young people.

However, things have changed he said and that as tourism came in, it brought in much development to several sectors.

“Tourism brought massive development in human resources and created employment,” he said. “We have started protecting our culture and environment and it has helped our economy.”

Of the total 99,709 tourists Bhutan received this year, 32,877 were international and 66,832 were regional visitors.

Dechen Tshomo