More highway restrooms in the plan

Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) is working on improving the banking services and toilet facilities for tourists.

According to TCB’s exit survey 2018, dissatisfaction with banking services, communication and toilet facilities were among the main complaints from tourists who visited Bhutan last year.

The survey found that about 12 percent of international and 10 percent of regional tourists said that they were dissatisfied with the banking system, including exchange, point of sale, and ATM services. About 10 percent of international and five percent of regional tourists said they were dissatisfied with internet and telephone services.

TCB’s director-general, Dorji Dradhul, said that the secretariat discussed improving the banking services for tourists with the prime minister during the AM with PM programme.

Tourists want improved credit card facilities or point of sale (POS) services.  The services, he said, weren’t found in many places and the few that are there did not work.

“Improving these services will benefit the locals as well,” he said.

Currently, international tourists pay USD 250 a day which covers accommodation, food and transportation. So, a majority of them do not carry cash with them. 

“If they want to spend on souvenirs then they cannot because of the shortcomings in these facilities,” Dorji Dradhul said.

He said that the TCB requested the prime minister following which the Prime minister’s office wrote to the Royal Monetary Authority to look into it to improve and add more such facilities.

TCB is also planning toilet facilities along the highways.

Close to 3 percent of international visitors said they were dissatisfied with the in-country amenities; about 7.18 percent of international visitors, 1.59 percent more than regional tourists were dissatisfied with toilet facilities in the country.

Dorji Dradhul said that for the flagship programme, TCB worked out the requirement of restroom every 30 to 40 kilometres along the highways. “In total, it comes to about 30 to 40 restrooms. We are discussing with the stakeholders.”

The priority was the toilet facilities, he said. 

TCB had two rounds of meetings with the Bhutan Toilet and other stakeholders, including the Department of Roads.

He said that unlike the one at Tamchoe, the new toilets would be constructed simple with basic facilities. “We are planning to do it within a year.”

However, management could be a problem, he said. For Tamcho, the management is outsourced to Bhutan Toilet; the one at Dochula is managed by the TCB. The restrooms constructed by the TCB at Chudzom and Hongtsho are managed by the gewog people.

“We are also planning on the management of toilets, which is one of the main challenges,” he said.

Dechen Tshomo

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