Restarting tourism with the vaccine

Tourists to present mandatory vaccine certificate and negative PCR test carried out 72 hours prior to entering the country

According to the Director General of Tourism Council of Bhutan, Dorji Dhradhul, when tourism reopens, tourists entering the country have to show their vaccine certificate in addition to a negative PCR test that has been taken earlier than 72 hours before entering the country, as evidence that they have been vaccinated.

Once in the country, tourists will also be required to undergo a test and a repeat test after 5 days.

“Going forward after three months, maybe the number of days for mandatory quarantine might decrease or maybe it will not be necessary. But as of today, tourists will have to go through 21 days mandatory quarantine,” Dorji Dhradhul said.

TCB is already in the process of developing SOP for the major stakeholders. “Once we reopen (tourism), we are going to have list of do’s and don’ts for hotels, guides, tour operators, airport staff and for transport,” he said.

He added, “For some time to come, even if we open after four months, we would still recommend the tourists don’t really mix with the crowd.”

He said while it is important to open tourism, however, it has to be done carefully.

“We are losing the economic opportunities for a greater cause. We don’t want to take a risk. Therefore, we are not competing with other countries to open up fast.  We don’t want to compete with other countries in trying to open fast. We are not in the rat race, and we have never been in the rat race from the early 70s,” he said.

The decision to open tourism will be taken carefully based on facts and figures. “We do not see any immediate plans to open tourism for next three months,” he said.

He said the country will be prepared to reopen once all the people are vaccinated.

 “It is not only about getting infected but we don’t want to give it to others,” he said.

A comprehensive tourism policy was approved on 5 January 2021 by the government. There is no change in terms of tourism policy principle of High Value Low Volume.

“When we say tourism policy has been approved, we are not saying that there was never a tourism policy – we are just saying it has been formalized,” he said.

He added, “We are going to make Bhutan –the world’s number one destination. Bhutan is going to feature in the world of tourism on top. And for that, we need to be very special so it is supported by this policy.”