Gearing up for the Visit Bhutan year

Tourism: The tourism industry looks forward to a good year ahead, with this year declared as Visit Bhutan year, to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King.

Tour operators have started developing various packages to attract more visitors this year.  They said their counterpart agents abroad have been informed of the Visit Bhutan year, besides carrying out marketing and promotional activities along the same line.

The Visit Bhutan year highlights a series of tourism events across the country to attract regional and international tourists.  It also serves as a platform to promote domestic tourism.  The Visit Bhutan year website (visitbhutanyear.com) and the calendar of events for 2015 were launched in November last year.

The calendar of events and the website facilitates information on the Visit Bhutan year, during which many events and activities are planned across the country.  The website also provides information on planning trips and how to get in touch with tour operators.   Visitors can also choose the itinerary packaged by local tour operators.

The Visit Bhutan year 2015 is accompanied by the tagline, ‘celebrate happiness.’

A tour operator said his company has designed the itinerary in line with the Visit Bhutan calendar, based on which the promotion would be done.

“We’re also exploring new source markets, taking advantage of the Visit Bhutan year,” he said. “We expect a better year ahead and the response, so far, has been good.”

Others are also looking at promoting the lean season months of summer to attract visitors this year.

A tour operator said his company would be visiting the US soon for marketing, especially to promote the lean season months.

“Business should be good this year and I remain optimistic,” he said, adding, last year, with the Bhutan-Thailand friendship offer, he was able to bring in more than 1,000 clients.

Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) officials said there was no change in the daily minimum tariff of USD 250 and 200 a day for tourists visiting this year.

However, there are some tour operators who feel that, without any special promotions for the Visit Bhutan year, it won’t be any different this year.

“During the Bhutan-Thailand friendship offer, there were discounts on airlines, hotels and the daily tariff,” he said, adding there were no such discounts for the Visit Bhutan year, which is why they remain skeptical.

“But we’ve announced why we’re celebrating the Visit Bhutan year to our agents abroad and we’ve been receiving many inquiries,” another tour operator said.

As the announcement for the Visit Bhutan year came quite late, some tour operators feel that there is not much they can do with the itineraries already planned and developed.

“We aren’t sure how the Visit Bhutan year would help us bring more tourists as the announcement came late,” a tour operator said.

Visit Bhutan 2015, according to TCB officials, is an opportunity to promote Bhutan in celebrating the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King who opened Bhutan to visitors with the policy of responsible tourism.

“There are many exciting events organised throughout 2015 which gives tour operators a good reason to promote Bhutan,” TCB’s media spokesperson said. “We all know that 2015 is a special year for us which gives the tourism industry a special reason to welcome our guests.”

Officials also said that 2015 would be another good year because of the increasing perception of Bhutan as a high-end destination.

“Moreover, having declared 2015 as visit Bhutan year, there are more reasons to promote Bhutan thus being able to create more awareness on Bhutan,” the official said.

Meanwhile, records with TCB show a total of 44,424 regional and 43,714 international tourists visited Bhutan until September last year.

By Kinga Dema

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