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Tourism after COVID in Bhutan.

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Tourism in Bhutan was first established in the year of 1974. Since then, a lot of employment opportunities were available and people were able to generate surplus income. In fact, tourism became the third highest economic generator of Bhutan. However, the country faced significant socio-economic challenges when the number of tourist arrivals dropped by about 90 %.

After closing its international borders for about two years, Bhutan decided to gradually allow entry of foreigners with necessary vaccinations and quarantine procedures like most countries on August 2021. The Tourism Council then officially reopened the gates on the 23rd of September this year.

Prior to reopening the borders, the country planned to develop more areas and destinations geared toward both locals and tourists even in southern regions of Bhutan. There may be more to discover now, from resorts to cafes and regional events.

Some of the new and old places or events that you may want to visit and witness while you’re in Bhutan are:

1. Willing waterfall café

The newly opened Willing waterfall café is located in Trongsa district (Central Bhutan). People can enjoy their coffee or tea along with a selection of snacks and meals while taking in the breathtaking view of the 50-meter-tall natural waterfall. It is a beautiful area where visitors may stroll to enjoy the beauty of Trongsa’s landscape. Additionally, there is an opportunity for the guests to reserve a table on a bridge with glass flooring for a greater view of the waterfall.

View of the Willing waterfall café. Picture sources:

A snapshot of natural stream in Willing Café. Picture sources:

2. The Royal Highlander festival

The Royal Festival in Gasa Dzongkhag was introduced in the 16th of October, 2016 as a gesture to mark the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Namgyal Wangchuk and to celebrate the 600th birth year cycle of Guru Rimphochoe and 400years since Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited Bhutan. Gasa is also one of the districts where the first ever Oscar-nominated Bhutanese film “Lunana, A Yak in the classroom” was shot.

Poster for the movie shot in Lunana

Picture source: Instagram:

This year the highland festival was conducted for the time after two years in the month of October for two days ( 23rd -24th ). Parades, contests, and competitions showcasing highland animals including horses, yaks and highland breeds of dogs are some of the festival's highlights. The animals were adorned with bells and expensive clothing or fabrics. Indigenous highlanders called as “ Layaps”, were seen engaging in traditional dances, and music, offering gifts, and conducting poetry recitations.

Small vendors with local goods and medicinal herbs are displayed at the event. Communities of people also travel from different parts of Bhutan to attend the celebration.

Highlanders at the Gasa festival

Tribal people seen dancing during the festival

3. Recreational Park in Phuentsholing

Although the park is not officially inaugurated, Indian tourists from the border area of Phuenthsoling known as ‘Jaigaon’ are already seen being attracted to the place.

The park covers about an acre of land and has an open-air theatre with skywalk amenities. It also is connected to an old pedestrian bridge.

Recreational Park under process in Phuentsholing

Indian Tourists in the Park

Bhutan is making a lot of effort to develop new tourist destinations and locations, and it also wants to provide opportunities for both domestic and international travellers. The nation looks forward to making up for the financial losses brought on by the pandemic while also boosting the tourism sector.

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