I’m happy that the Government has revoked its decision to liberalize tourist tariffs. And that it has decided instead to increase the minimum tourist tariff to US$ 250 per night from 2011 onwards. Liberalizing tourist tariffs would have undermined Bhutan’s valuable brand image and affected our economy and society significantly.

But I’m alarmed at how the Government changed its decision. Just one meeting with stakeholders and the Prime Minister decides, during that meeting itself, that liberalizing tourist tariffs is not such a good idea. Just a simple show of hands of those present at the meeting, and the PM decides to increase the minimum tourist tariff. Just like that, the most important provision of the PM’s Executive Order is rescinded.

Obviously I’m satisfied with the final outcome of the recent meeting. But I can’t help wondering how our government takes important decisions. Did, for example, the PM fully understand the issues before signing the 13 November Executive Order into “immediate effect”? And, did the PM consider those issues again, carefully and thoroughly, before reversing his decision?

It’s important to know that our government does not act arbitrarily. And, that it is not fickle-minded.


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  1. good for bhutan. thank god!!!!! flexibility is important component of good governance. but make mistake and creating more flexibility; what i am worried of! keep it up DPT. you did good by revoking your decision.
    never make such provoking and dangerous decision never in your tenure.
    all the best.. never think by conducting parliament session closed-door you can hide what u do. we are alys watching you.

  2. BetterFuture says

    It is a welcome/desired development that the government chose not to liberalize the tariff and instead increase it. It is time we did that since US$200+ per night was effective since 1980’s. However, the ugly issue of “UNDERCUTTING” wasn’t discussed and this needs to be resolved urgently. Underpricing will be more rampant. This is where TCB along with outside experts can seek ideas and inside stories from tour operators and then come up with recommendations that are not bureaucratic in nature. The increase in tariff will mean, “undercutting” will be more lucrative than ever since travelers or agents abroad can now gain a lot more by having that competitive edge in pricing. We will have to resolve this quickly. TCB’s website needs to have a bold warning/statement and whenever TCB attends travel shows abroad, this (undercutting is illegal) has to be made clear. There should be a way to complain about undercutting (maintaining anonymity) and maybe even take surveys (questionnaire) upon arrival or departure. Enabling online payment in the near future is great and it should be designed so that cross-checking of amount vis-a-vis tour duration and size is possible. Your ideas and thoughts would be timely as TCB is in the midst of framing- rules and regulation, and monitoring mechanisms. Good day!

  3. I am glad that the PM decided to finally listen to the combined protests of the stake holders against the liberalization policy and rescinded the earlier Executive Order. I am happy about this. Ofcourse I too agree that his on-the-spot decision without consulting others in his cabinet is rather unorthodox. But I think PM realizes that the decision he was making would go down well with 99% of the stakeholders…. so he is on safe grounds! The man is darn shrewd and as always, he isn’t afraid to make decisions. Some have called this trait of his as being authoritarian … but I personally think of it as being courageous – the stakeholders needed answers and he gave it to them!

    Times are coming when the government has to make some tough decisions and I am hopeful that the PM is man enough to make them. Otherwise, this country is headed for serious trouble.

  4. Honestly, OL has got a very good point here.

    The first question is how can Jigme Y Thinley run this country like a dictator? One minute he says yes and that becomes the law, and the other minute he changes his mind just like that and revoke the decision. Mind you there was nothing of urgent national security issue involved in this particular policy of tourism liberalisation. Then why the rush? It is indeed very much worrying to see how our leader makes decisions which will affect this nation and its people for many, many years to come. It is obvious that he makes decisions within the whims of just a few thoughtless moments undeniably in his aging old shrinking brain-one time he gives an executive order to put it into “immediate effect” and the other time he just like that revokes his order.

    The second question follows: who is responsible for all the mess and the trouble resulting from the first executive order? I am sure not only a lot of human resources were galvanised for the liberalisation but also some hundred thousands ngultrums were spent to put the executive order into effect immediately. Who will pay for this? If not Jigme Y Thinley, then who?

    The third question arises: Supreme Court obviously does not deal with such administrative/ executive issues.In other countries they have the Civil Administrative Courts which overlooks such issues but we don’t have it. Then where can we sue our leaders, not just Jigme Y Thinley but any of our present leaders and leaders to come in the future for their administrative blunders which may destroy our homeland? How can we prevent our leaders from gambling with our people’s lives and our country’s future?

    A lot of unanswered questions remain in my mind. It is apparent that Jigme Y Thinley is becoming more of a democratic tyrant everyday and we have no ways of dealing with it. I always felt democracy was too early in our country without the establishment of a strong basic institutions first but they said it was timely. Now I am just wondering where do we go from here. Neither are people allowed to stage demonstrations to express their disagreement with such detrimental national policies nor do they have any avenues to approach and stop their leaders from such blatant misuse of power by these leaders and make them pay for their blunders which not only cost money to our country but also affect the lives of its people.

  5. guardian says

    It is indeed a sad day for our democracy, the government has been held to ransom by a few of the powerful and wealthy tour operators and withdrawn the executive order which would have led to the liberalization of tourist tariffs. Also, contrary to what many people painted as a doomsday scenario, the liberalization of the tariff would have never led to a massive wave of backpackers venturing into the country and spoiling our pristine environment.

    The message is loud and clear, only rich people are welcome to the land that gave Gross National Happiness to the world. So ironic and so true.

  6. What about freeing the royalty after the 15th night? Tour operators will always find ways to escape the regulations and tourists will have the opportunity to live here for a long time which might even go into years as the living expenses here in Bhutan for a tourist is obviously cheaper. Of course one may perhaps argue that the the tourists will be required to stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and drive around in a Hiace bus, but who is going to monitor this? Even if the TCB and the various associations put up monitoring mechanisms as they rightfully pledged so, is it really going to be possible?….rather the govt. should have reduced the royalty in order to encourage longer stays……On seeing this a young officer from TCB ventured to invite argumentation on the subject but was booed out by the roaring tour operators who made up majority of the participants during the meeting…..with 80% tour operators representation, could it really have been a democratic decision?…

  7. guardian says

    My problem is that the OL will never have anything positive to say about the decisions taken by the DPT government.

    Earlier he was against the executive order liberalizing the tourist tariff and now that the government has revoked that order, he is again worried, this time because he feels that the government would do this more often in the future.

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