The tourism industry in Bhutan is a major service industry that contributes significantly to national revenue and generates valuable foreign exchange while also enhancing the image of the country internationally. It is also viewed as a critical growth sector that could boost employment among youth and alleviate poverty conditions in rural Bhutan. Tourism in Bhutan has enjoyed sustained growth levels since the sector was privatized in 1991. In 2008, 27,655 tourists visited the country generating an income of about US$ 40 million, compared to tourist arrivals of 7,559 and revenue generation of about US$ 10.5 million in the year 2000.
Tourism development in the country is guided by the “high value–low impact” policy, essentially to strike a balance between securing economic gains and the need to protect and preserve Bhutan’s rich cultural, religious and natural heritage. Currently, efforts are being made to strengthen the high quality destination experience for tourists through the development of infrastructure, human resource capacity building, improving hospitality services, and introduction of new tourism products.
Other priorities in the sector include the promotion of sustainable tourism development and to find ways of enhancing community participation in the tourism industry. Projects and activities will focus on achieving the national and sector goals by creating employment opportunities, generating revenue, supplementing rural income to improve living standards and quality of life of rural communities in Bhutan.
Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world. Crime rates are minimal and foreign visitors are treated politely and with respect. The country’s history, culture, and isolation offer a great deal to the more adventurous tourists who have been visiting Bhutan since 1974.