UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, has expressed his support for the long-term tourism policy of Bhutan, with its focus on sustainability and quality, on an official visit to the country where he met with acting Prime Minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba (Thimpu, Bhutan, 12 January).
The Royal Government of Bhutan considers tourism “a window of opportunity for the future of Bhutan” said Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, during his meeting with Mr. Rifai. Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba pointed to tourism’s contribution to the economic security and Gross National Happiness - Bhutan’s measure of wellbeing - of the Bhutanese people.
Like many other destinations, Bhutan is facing “significant challenges and strong pressure for change” said Mr. Rifai addressing government officials, private sector representatives and members of development agencies during the seminar ‘Mainstreaming Tourism’, co-organised by UNWTO and the Bhutan Tourism Council.
“At UNWTO we acknowledge the tremendous pressure Bhutan is under to stimulate rapid growth in tourism and praise the government for its continued focus on sustainability and quality,” said Mr. Rifai. “The principle of high-value, low-impact tourism development, guiding tourism’s growth in Bhutan, is highly commendable and has undoubtedly contributed to the unique tourism brand of this country”.
A relative newcomer to the international tourism stage, Bhutan has made great achievements in its tourism development over the last decades, securing an international reputation as a top destination. The country has been a UNWTO Member State since 2003, in which time the two have partnered in the organisation of various technical missions, projects and capacity building programmes for the development and promotion of Bhutan’s tourism sector.