50 Years of Bhutan Tourism

50 Years of Bhutan Tourism Ugen Tshering
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Starting this month until December 17, 2024, Bhutan is celebrating 50 years of tourism, marking a golden jubilee since opening to the world in 1974. This journey began with the coronation of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the arrival of the first tourists: eight Americans, five Spaniards, and one Argentinian. Without an airline, their journey was long and arduous.
The allure of Bhutan’s unique charm drew more visitors, but tourism truly flourished with the launch of Druk Air in 1983, making travel easier. Over the years, Bhutan has steadily welcomed more guests, with a peak in 2019 when 320,000 tourists visited the country.
As we honor the past five decades, we look forward to a future where sustainable tourism continues to enrich Bhutan. This jubilee is a tribute to all our visitors and everyone who has contributed to our tourism sector—a milestone in Bhutan’s transformation into a sustainable and transformative destination.

From the start, Bhutan embraced a “high value, low volume” policy, committing to sustainable tourism long before other countries. Bhutan is the only country in the world to implement a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) for all guests, currently USD 100 per adult per night. The funds from the SDF support various initiatives, including preserving the country’s pristine environment, maintaining its cultural heritage, providing free healthcare and education for all Bhutanese, and supporting sustainable development projects that benefit local communities. Bhutan is also one of the few countries to incorporate happiness as a development philosophy and remains carbon negative.

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