In a most welcome move, the immigration office in Phuentsholing has been upgraded.
The hundreds of tourists and expatriates that enter the country though the city daily will now have a more pleasant first experience of Bhutan.
With more counters, officials, and a token system, service delivery should be more efficient and orderly.
With more seating, air conditioning and public restrooms now available, waiting to get a permit will be more of a humane activity.
In addition, an online permit system has also been introduced which should only further speed up the process.
The upgrade is overdue.
We are attempting to attract more regional tourists, many of whom come through Phuentsholing. And there have been reports of many regional tourists and expatriates complaining about the conditions they faced at the immigration office in Phuentsholing. Undoubtedly, the poor condition would have convinced many to not return to or recommend Bhutan as either a holiday or work destination.
By providing better immigration services, this problem should be addressed and regional tourists and expatriates encouraged to return and recommend the country to others.
It must be pointed out that an important regional office has received the attention it requires. The immigration office of the Phuentsholing regional office has been under resourced in terms of both human resources and physical working space despite the large number of people it dealt with daily.
We are hopeful that the government will continue strengthening the immigration department by providing the human resources required in terms of quantity and by further enhancing their capabilities through training and technology.
Illegal immigration is an ongoing challenge and must always receive priority attention.
Our immigration officers must be well trained and exude professionalism, well equipped, and motivated enough so that they are able to do their jobs to their full potential without hindrance.
Immigration offices and check points nationwide, must be strengthened to have adequate human resources and infrastructure.
A highly professionalised immigration department not only strengthens the country’s security but will also build the country’s hospitable reputation.