Bhutan is a hub for sustainable tourism

While most countries struggle to stay carbon neutral, Bhutan remains one of the few nations to be carbon negative. The country emits 2.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, and the vast forests that cover nearly three-quarters of the country absorb more than four million tons. The country’s constitution mandates that forest cover be maintained at no less than 60 per cent. The nation with a population of nearly 8 lakh citizens harbours one of the 10 most biodiverse regions in the world.

But all this doesn’t mean the Himalayan country remains untouched by climate change. Due to the increase in temperature, people living here are vulnerable to landslides and flooding due to glacial lake outbursts. His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has warned that conservation must remain an active commitment in the years ahead.

Tourism remains one of the important industries here and Bhutan adopted sustainable tourism even when most countries were not even talking or thinking about it. “Bhutan’s noble policy of high-value, low-volume tourism has existed since we started welcoming guests to our country in 1974. But its intent and spirit were watered down over the years, without us even realizing it,” said H.E. Dr. Lotay Tshering, the Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan in one of his speeches last year when the country opened itself to the tourists again after the pandemic.

“We must also ensure that we are a high-value society, one that is infused with sincerity, integrity and principles, where people must always live in safe communities, among serene environments and derive comfort from the finest facilities,” continued H.E. Dr. Lotay. “Typically, ‘high value’ is understood as exclusive high-end products and extravagant recreational facilities. But that is not Bhutan. And ‘low volume’ doesn’t mean limiting the number of visitors. We will appreciate everyone who visits us to treasure our values, while we also learn as much from them”, he continued.

Bhutan raised its Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) from USD$65 to USD$200 per person, per night. This increase in traveller fees supports development projects within the country, including free education and healthcare. Some of the funds will also go towards planting trees, helping tourism industry workers to gain more skills and maintaining the Bhutan trail which has opened after many years.

It is expected that Trans Bhutan Trail, where tourists can hike, mountain bike, trail run and, most importantly, connect with rural Bhutanese culture and history, will play a major role in boosting tourism. As per the reports, Trans Bhutan Trail is already gaining popularity amongst travellers. They find it quite exotic when local farmers open their homes to serve tourists a traditional meal while sharing their culture and heritage with their guests.

Some offer cooking demonstrations, while others indulge guests in traditional hot stone baths. For a deeper experience, travellers can even spend the night. This grassroots partnership not only empowers women to work in tourism and earn a sustainable income but also provides guests with a deep cultural understanding and connection with some of the most remote communities and people in Bhutan.

To provide this experience, Trans Bhutan Trail, a non-profit is working tirelessly to showcase a unique piece of Bhutan’s cultural heritage for the benefit of its people. All the profit goes back to the trail and the communities who live there.

It is to be mentioned that last year, it produced 3.8 million tons of carbon emissions yet sequestered 9.4 million tons of carbon emissions.

Related Posts