A Very Special Message from the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators
Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO)
POST BOX No. 938
Tourism is a major source of revenue for many countries and an important means of achieving socio-economic development. For a small country like Bhutan, tourism takes on a special significance. The country believes that tourism, in affording the opportunity to travel, can help promote an understanding among people from different corners of the world and build closer ties of friendship based on appreciation and mutual respect for different cultures and lifestyles.
Despite the good tidings, there are problems attached with tourism in Bhutan which, if not controlled in a timely manner, can have a devastating and irreversible impact on the local environment, culture and identity of the people. Realizing these problems and the fact that the resources on which Bhutan tourism is based are limited, the Royal government of Bhutan has recognized the need to develop tourism in Bhutan based on the principles of sustainability. In other words, tourism in Bhutan must be both environmentally and economically viable at the same time.
Since the advent of tourism in Bhutan in 1974, the Royal Government has adopted a committed approach toward the growth and development of tourism in Bhutan. In order to significantly minimize any problems faced by tourists, the number of tourists who arrive in the country each year has been maintained at a manageable level. This has been implemented through a government-regulated tourist tariff policy.
The meeting between all the tour Operators and the honorable Lyonchhen Prime Minister of Bhutan was convened on 24th February, 2010 paving the way for several major outcomes:
The government is committed to the policy of 'High Value, Low Impact', minimal or no negative impact which does not undermine culture, promotes ecological conservation, equitable distribution of tourism benefits and social harmony.
The primary focus is on tourism that promotes well-being/ spirituality, MICE and adventure tourism based on principles of the Gross National Happiness factor (GNH).
There will be regular and ongoing discussions between stakeholders. Meetings between the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and the various tourism associations every 6 months. If felt necessary, the associations will put in writing the requisition for additional meetings. The primary purpose of these meetings will be to further improve the overall Bhutan travel experience for our tourists and guests. An annual meeting between the Tourism Council members and the tourism industry under the auspices of the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators will also be held.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan will update its website regularly to reflect all the initiatives implemented by TCB on a regular basis.
Tariff: The official Government Tourism Tariff will be increased to $250 US per person
Season: All year round (No lean season months)
Children below 12 years: No royalty
Surcharge: Status quo
The above is due to go into effect starting January 2011.
Monitoring of Bhutan Tourism Services
Respective organizations will develop mechanisms to monitor their members in collaboration with the Tourism Council of Bhutan. The Council will also ensure proper location and addresses of all tour operators and facilitate their licensing procedures. Unlicensed tour companies are not permitted to operate in Bhutan.
The Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) has been mandated to institute and promote ethical conduct (Code of Conduct to promote and sustain responsible tourism guidelines. ABTO is also mandated to monitor and regulate in a fully transparent environment the various packages offered within the tariff schedules. ABTO and the Hotel Association of Bhutan (HAB) will work closely together on further improving the quality of cuisine and its variety.
No clemency will be granted to those involved in unethical tourism in Bhutan such as sex tourism and other forms of illegal tourism. The Government has pledged to take swift and determined action against violators.
Our Honorable Prime Minister has appealed to the tourism fraternity to promote and preserve our national identity through wearing our national dress to individual private offices.
Please be informed that an official announcement/ circular on the above will soon be circulated. Until then, please treat the above information as reference and for your kind information only.
Important Recommendations for Visitors planning to engage in Bhutan Tourism
As a tourist, you should make reservations for your tour through a recognized Bhutanese tour operator such as A1 Bhutan Travel Services Bhutan, with your entire land arrangements provided by us. For cultural tours in Bhutan, the booking arrangements should be made four weeks in advance. During festivals however, the arrangements should be made six weeks in advance. The spring and autumn festivals are the peak times for tourism in Bhutan, and without early reservations, it's often difficult to confirm flight and hotel reservations.
All tours cancel are subject to the following charges :
30 days before the start of the trip: no charge
21 days before the start of the trip: 10 % of the total amount
14 days before the start of the trip: 15% of the total amount
7 days before the start of the trip : 30% of the total amount
Less than 7 days before the start of the trip: 50 % of the total amount
After arrival in Bhutan 100%
There is no extra charge for delays in arrival or departures due to extreme weather conditions that cause disruption of air services or road blocks. The tourist must however bear the cost of accommodations, F&B, transportation etc.
Note: Indian currency notes up to the value of Rs. 100 are legal tender in Bhutan. However 500 and 1000 rupees notes are not accepted in Bhutan
A1 Bhutan Travel Services Bhutan has conducted extensive research and spoken to over 1000 tourists from various parts of the world who have visited Bhutan to custom design various Bhutan tours packages. They are based on activity-based tours which are highly appreciated by tourists visiting through us. We offer: