The Tourism Council of Bhutan’s (TCB) infrastructure and product diversification plans are expected to create employment for those affected by the pandemic, according to Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji.

He said it while responding to Wamrong’s Member of Parliament (MP) Karma Thinley’s question on the government’s plans and programme to address the problems of affected individuals in the tourism sector after completion of Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGRK)’s extension period.

Lyonpo said many Bhutanese, irrespective of the sector, have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

“The employment of those individuals would depend on the pandemic situation in the country and the world,” Lyonpo said. “From the government’s side, there are different programmes initiated.”

He said TCB’s infrastructure development plans such as the construction of new toilets and resting areas provided employment to 1,500 affected individuals.

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji said that TCB also started reskilling and upskilling programmes on international language and culinary. “The hotels were kept functional as quarantine facilities to provide earning opportunities.”

He said employment opportunities in the construction, for example, were given to all through the Build Bhutan Project. “The project gives them income and equips them with skills for future employment.”

Lyonpo said that the National CSI Development Bank provided training opportunities and loans on low-interest rates to support the affected individuals.

“About 2,000 people participated in the Druk Kora and Druk Neykor programmes helping those in the tourism sector earn,” he said.

Druk Neykor, a pilgrimage travel programme, was developed in collaboration with the Zhung Dratshang, Department of Culture and National Land Commission Secretariat.

The Druk Neykor programme first starts with tours to 16 sites within Thimphu. Some of the sites in Thimphu are Tshelung Ney, Druk Wangditse Lhakhang, Talangkha Tashi Drukgyel Goenpa and Samarzingkha Drakna Guru Ney, among others.

Druk Kora campaign aims to promote domestic tourism encouraging locals to travel and support tourism businesses.

The minister also said the government is planning to invest in the National Resilient Fund to support the affected individuals.

He said that in a year, 45,766 applicants received Kidu support, out of which 13,000 applicants worked in tourism and for the loan interest payment support, 2,000 applicants were from the tourism sector. “About 15,000 individuals received support two months after the extension of the monthly income support.”

By Chhimi Dema

Edited by Tashi Dema