1.13 Sustainability Co-Design: Tourism Council of Bhutan

This case study will give you an overview of how DMOs can achieve sustainability in the destination by taking into consideration all stakeholders and ensuring their happiness.

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand and reflect on how the Tourism Council of Bhutan is developing a sustainable tourism model in the destination

Achieving Sustainability in the Destination through Happiness

This case study will give you an overview of how DMOs can achieve sustainability in the destination by taking into consideration all stakeholders and ensuring their happiness.

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand and reflect on how the Tourism Council of Bhutan is developing a sustainable tourism model in the destination by guaranteeing that the life of locals is improved by tourism activity in all of its aspects.

Main Takeaways from this Case Study

  • Empathy and consideration towards all stakeholders are key in achieving sustainability.
  • Whilst the sustainability conversation is important, maintaining morals high and sticking to our goals is essential.


Summary

What kind of projects is being organised?

There are currently developments circulating around knowledge, digitalisation, waste management and infrastructure development. When Bhutan first opened up to tourism there was a concept of high-value low-volume due to the limited tourism offering and economy of the country. Tourism was to be hand in hand with the culture, which led to an increase in hotels and other tourism players. The pandemic gave an introspective on how that goal is sustainable for larger countries, so Bhutan has seen it as an opportunity to learn.

Can you explain how tourism revolves around the national values of Bhutan?

Bhutan is based around the values of happiness, a holistic way of being happier. Money isn't what makes someone happy, a family isn't what makes someone happy, everything has to come together. Tourism has to be a part of this as well, it's challenging due to the race-like environment that's natural to business, however, it just isn't supported by the lifestyle of Bhutan. Any project that goes through the tourism board has to be approved under the lens of sustainability and how it will give to the value of happiness.

How does the sustainable revenue fee work?

The current system expects tourists to pay $65 per night in Bhutan, this money is put towards schooling, sustainability and maintaining the benefit of the citizens.

If you want to survive as a nation, locals have to be a part of the tourism system, it creates more personable benefits on top of the economic impact.

Why are the tourism guides so important to the tourism of Bhutan?

Bhutan is looking at immersive, personal experiences. Guides are a bridge between environment, culture and travellers. Bhutan has stories that deserve to be told by people who have a passion for telling those stories. Not everyone can be a guide, you must have skills and knowledge in order to uphold the high value.

What is a high-value tourist considering high-value tourism?

Bhutan welcomes everybody, but you cannot please everybody and as such there are people who don't want to experience Bhutan in a way that is in line with the values that Bhutan has. High value is making sure there are the right people who are mindful about economic responsibility as well as environmental sustainability, it's connecting the people who uphold these values with guides who can satisfy their curiosity.

There are some tourists who are critical, if Bhutan fails in upholding these values they are sure to give feedback that says so. These are important tourists in being valuable to the development of understanding tourism.

What do you think the key elements are to being a sustainable tourism destination?

Bhutan defines sustainability as a supplementary effort. Tourism can't be seen as a burden or waste of resources otherwise it goes against the sustaining of cultural values. Keeping locals happy is clearly just as important as visitors.

The holistic approach ensures that there is an expanded focus that takes all stakeholders into account.

Bhutan doesn't have the resources to consider mass tourism so keeping itself an exclusive, high-value destination that aims for higher-value consumers is currently the only way everyone can stay happy. This includes neighbouring associates such as India and Bangladesh who are large providers also.

What advice would you give to DMOs on how to become more sustainable, attaining the balance that Bhutan has?

The focus has to be the local communities, if we can't keep them happy then how can we expect external visitors to be happy? If the host communities are doing well then that's a good start in attaining balance. The focus for Bhutan is Bhutan, it's considered safe and sustainable thanks to this approach.

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand and reflect on how the Tourism Council of Bhutan is developing a sustainable tourism model in the destination

Achieving Sustainability in the Destination through Happiness

This case study will give you an overview of how DMOs can achieve sustainability in the destination by taking into consideration all stakeholders and ensuring their happiness.

During the talk, you’ll be able to understand and reflect on how the Tourism Council of Bhutan is developing a sustainable tourism model in the destination by guaranteeing that the life of locals is improved by tourism activity in all of its aspects.

Main Takeaways from this Case Study

  • Empathy and consideration towards all stakeholders are key in achieving sustainability.
  • Whilst the sustainability conversation is important, maintaining morals high and sticking to our goals is essential.


Summary

What kind of projects is being organised?

There are currently developments circulating around knowledge, digitalisation, waste management and infrastructure development. When Bhutan first opened up to tourism there was a concept of high-value low-volume due to the limited tourism offering and economy of the country. Tourism was to be hand in hand with the culture, which led to an increase in hotels and other tourism players. The pandemic gave an introspective on how that goal is sustainable for larger countries, so Bhutan has seen it as an opportunity to learn.

Can you explain how tourism revolves around the national values of Bhutan?

Bhutan is based around the values of happiness, a holistic way of being happier. Money isn't what makes someone happy, a family isn't what makes someone happy, everything has to come together. Tourism has to be a part of this as well, it's challenging due to the race-like environment that's natural to business, however, it just isn't supported by the lifestyle of Bhutan. Any project that goes through the tourism board has to be approved under the lens of sustainability and how it will give to the value of happiness.

How does the sustainable revenue fee work?

The current system expects tourists to pay $65 per night in Bhutan, this money is put towards schooling, sustainability and maintaining the benefit of the citizens.

If you want to survive as a nation, locals have to be a part of the tourism system, it creates more personable benefits on top of the economic impact.

Why are the tourism guides so important to the tourism of Bhutan?

Bhutan is looking at immersive, personal experiences. Guides are a bridge between environment, culture and travellers. Bhutan has stories that deserve to be told by people who have a passion for telling those stories. Not everyone can be a guide, you must have skills and knowledge in order to uphold the high value.

What is a high-value tourist considering high-value tourism?

Bhutan welcomes everybody, but you cannot please everybody and as such there are people who don't want to experience Bhutan in a way that is in line with the values that Bhutan has. High value is making sure there are the right people who are mindful about economic responsibility as well as environmental sustainability, it's connecting the people who uphold these values with guides who can satisfy their curiosity.

There are some tourists who are critical, if Bhutan fails in upholding these values they are sure to give feedback that says so. These are important tourists in being valuable to the development of understanding tourism.

What do you think the key elements are to being a sustainable tourism destination?

Bhutan defines sustainability as a supplementary effort. Tourism can't be seen as a burden or waste of resources otherwise it goes against the sustaining of cultural values. Keeping locals happy is clearly just as important as visitors.

The holistic approach ensures that there is an expanded focus that takes all stakeholders into account.

Bhutan doesn't have the resources to consider mass tourism so keeping itself an exclusive, high-value destination that aims for higher-value consumers is currently the only way everyone can stay happy. This includes neighbouring associates such as India and Bangladesh who are large providers also.

What advice would you give to DMOs on how to become more sustainable, attaining the balance that Bhutan has?

The focus has to be the local communities, if we can't keep them happy then how can we expect external visitors to be happy? If the host communities are doing well then that's a good start in attaining balance. The focus for Bhutan is Bhutan, it's considered safe and sustainable thanks to this approach.