According to Buddhist wisdom, we should be open for new developments even if we do not always understand their impact or meaning immediately. Things that might seem bad at the beginning can become something good in the future. 

In the Western world, Bhutan is still very much seen as an authentic country, where the quality of life is more important than the number of materialistic goods owned by people. By opening its borders, Bhutan of course also became influenced by this negative and never-ending ‘culture of materialism’. Luckily, however, this influence is still minor, and instead of negative consequences, the opening of the borders has resulted in more connection with the rest of the world. Bhutan got the opportunity to share its wisdom and knowledge and thus create special value for people all over the world. 

The Covid-19 crisis has affected us all in the world in ways we have never experienced before. Factories and offices were closed, and even full cities were shut down for weeks. In a very short time, we acknowledged that health is much more important than economic development. 

The quarantine period forced people to spend time at home, and for a lot of people, this meant they got time and opportunity to reconsider their lifestyle. People became more aware of the meaning of life. People have started to understand the importance of wellbeing, nature, a healthy environment and of clean air. When people start travelling again – and they will – they will be looking for less crowded destinations, for spaces with untamed nature and fresh air. 

In my opinion, no country in the world can meet the needs of the post-Covid-19 traveller better than Bhutan. Where else to travel, when you are looking for meaningful and inspiring experiences? Bhutan has a vast potential, of which most of its inhabitants are not yet aware. Sometimes when you are in the middle of something and regard that as normal, it is hard to see how special and unique that can be for someone else. 

Bhutan stands at the beginning of a new era, and it is already an example for the world, now it can become the new wellbeing destination, the new meaningful space in the world. This new dimension, combined with innovating services, will attract new types of visitors. People who prefer to stay in one place instead of sleeping in a different hotel every night. People who will return, because they get connected and attached to the special values and atmosphere of Bhutan. 

I foresee that the number of international travellers to Bhutan will double in the next five years. This, however, will not happen overnight and a lot of effort and work has to be done to achieve this prosperous result for the people of Bhutan and the rest of the world. The first and most important step is for Bhutanese people – and especially the younger generation – to see, to believe and to value their potential: Bhutan as the new wellbeing space of the world. 

When awareness is created, the relevant stakeholders need to create a professional and internationally focused sales and marketing plan. Of course, the redefinition of Bhutan in the travel market needs to be combined by simplifying reservation and booking procedures and competitive flight prices. 

As soon as borders open again, Bhutan must be ready to act and show the world how simple, humble and elementary human values can create a better life for all. 

Contributed by

Louk Lennaerts