SAYONI BHADURI – Mumbai
Bhutan’s national carrier Druk Air will connect Mumbai to Paro from September 2012. Discussing details of the expansion Yeshey Wangchuk, senior officer Marketing, Druk Air informed that the flights will be twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday. Druk Air will also start flights to Singapore every Wednesday and Saturday with a stopover in Kolkata.
With increased connectivity to Bhutan from India, the Tourism Council of Bhutan expects an increase in interest in the destination. Damcho Rinzin, media spokesperson, Tourism Council of Bhutan said, “We have seen an increase of 25-30 per cent in tourists arrivals from India in 2010-2011 and we expect a similar increase in the current year as well.” India still is the biggest source market for Bhutan, closely followed by US and Japan. “We have seen a good increase in numbers from China as well, and they are fast picking up,” Rinzin added. He also informed that for Indians only an entry permit id is required to travel to Bhutan while for other international travellers, if they have paid their tour payments ahead of time, visas are provided within 24 hours.
Being a small nation, Bhutan has been very careful to attract only high end tourists to maintain the integrity of the destination. With reference to the awareness, Rinzin added that we are looking at cost effective models to promote tourism. They have been working with the Taj hotels on a joint marketing initiative to promote Bhutan as a destination.