20 environmentally friendly packages launched for tourists to explore in Bhutan

ABTO: The Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO), on March 5, launched 20 low carbon, environmentally friendly, tourism products and packages for tourists to explore in Bhutan at the ITB Berlin, Germany .

The ITB Berlin is the world’s largest tourism trade fair.

The new products from all parts of Bhutan, according to the association, are tailored for sustainable and cost effective tourism experiences.  They include community based tourism packages, sports and recreation activities, therapeutic wellness retreats, nature and culture discoveries, and tributes to ancient but living architecture, and the exclusive GNH travel package, among others.

With the launch, officials said, visitors now would be able to experience the low-carbon lifestyle of Bhutanese in their traditional and natural environment.  The low-carbon tourism package aims at using renewable energy sources and energy efficient transportation, as well as measures for the carbon footprint of various products and services in the tourism.

The west-east trip on low carbon wheels that involves mountain biking, trekking the path of the thunder dragon, and weaving your path in Bhutan on a textile trip, are some of the products, with durations ranging from eight to 15 days in Bhutan.

ABTO initiated the Bhutan low carbon tourism project, with support from European Commission through its SWITCH Asia Project. “The development of the 20 products is a part of the project’s vision to create a sustainable tourism development and sustainable consumption and production in tourism business,” ABTO’s executive director Sonam Dorji said.

Although Bhutan is already a low carbon destination with carbon footprints much lower than international standards, ABTO officials said the industry was not going to be complacent about carbon footprints.

“To live up to the reputation as a nation committed to environmental protection and acknowledging that tourism is a major contributor of emissions, Bhutan’s tourism industry considered the need to reduce its carbon footprint further,” Sonam Dorji said.

ABTO, together with the Guides Association of Bhutan and Hotels and Restaurants Association of Bhutan, initiated the project since 2012.  The agencies work towards evaluation of greenhouse gas emission of the tourism industry, and set a benchmark for sustainable production and consumption in tourism business operations.

The low carbon products are expected to contribute to livelihood development for local communities, by promoting sustainable tourism development.

By Kinga Dema