Taking note of the delinking process of Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH) from the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), the Lhengye Zhungtshog (Cabinet Secretariat) opined that the institute could operate without government subsidies.

The Lhengye Zhungtshog also opined that RITH could be fully managed and operated outside the civil service.

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) had earlier submitted a proposal to the Lhengye Zhungtshog to delink RITH from TCB. TCB’s organisational development exercise (OD) report in 2016 and 2019 also suggested delinking RITH.

The first meeting of the third tourism council in 2019 also directed the TCB Secretariat to come up with a final proposal to delink RITH.

Cabinet Secretary Sangay Duba said that although the proposal was discussed during the 92nd session of the Cabinet meeting on May 11, the decision has not been made.

He said this was because the proposal was to delink RITH as an autonomous agency with funding from the government. “However, Cabinet members felt that it could operate and sustain without government funding.”

According to the secretary, Cabinet decided to explore again if the institution should be kept as autonomous that can sustain on its own or to explore if it can function with the government’s subsidy with some change in the functioning modalities.

He said the Lhengye Zhungtshog has now directed foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, who is also a chair of the TCB board to consult relevant stakeholders and explore developing functioning modalities. “Lyonpo should submit the report to Lhengye Zhungtshog and only then the Cabinet will discuss again and decide.”

The secretary said that if RITH becomes autonomous, it would not be governed by the civil service.

If RITH becomes autonomous, the institution would have financial flexibility and HR to get the best of faculty, especially lecturers from the relevant tourism industry. This is not possible today under the TCB.

One reason for proposing the delinking was that RITH relies on TCB for its budget. Budgetary regulations affected the institution, as its budgetary requirement was high.

It was learnt that if delinked, RITH plans to work on accreditation with universities abroad that will benefit graduates to find jobs or study abroad apart from bringing foreign students.

RITH, located in Motithang in Thimphu, offers students a diploma in hotel management and tourism management.

By Yangchen C Rinzin

Edited by Tashi Dema