Counting sheep

A reader sent me this joke in response to my last entry about McKinsey’s recommendations on our tourism sector.

A guy is driving around in his Porsche in the countryside. He stops outside a field full of sheep, walks up to the shepherd and says “I’ve got an offer. I’ll guess how many sheep you’ve got in this field, and if I guess right, I get to take a sheep with me, and if I guess wrong, you get my car.”

Shepherd thinks he’s on to a sure thing and agrees.

“137” says the driver.”Damn me, you’re right.” says the shepherd and dutifully hands over a sheep.

The man walks away, stuffs the sheep in his car, and is about to drive away when the shepherd knocks on his window. “I’ve got a proposal for you. If I can guess what you do for a living, I get to take your car. If I’m wrong, you can have all my sheep.”

“Done”, says the driver, counting up the number of nights he could be kept happy with 137 sheep.

“You’re a McKinsey consultant”, says the shepherd.

“Bloody hell, how did you guess?”

“Easy. You come in here uninvited, you tell me what I already know, and then you charge me for it.”

Consulting tourists

So the government has accepted and decided to implement McKinsey’s recommendations for the tourism sector. And it seems like we are paying a lot of money – almost 10 million dollars – to a consulting firm to tell us what we already know. Attracting high end visitors, promoting ecotourism, making Bhutan a destination for international meetings, easing ticketing, simplifying visa procedures, improving hotels, domestic air services, developing infrastructure, investing in marketing … these are more or less the same recommendations that a series of earlier consultants have made. More importantly, they are the same ones that ABTO and tour operators have repeatedly submitted to the government. Still, I’m hopeful. I’m very hopeful that these common recommendations will finally get some serious attention from the government. After all, they are now McKinsey’s recommendations.

But, the government has, thankfully, already decided to dump McKinsey’s main recommendation: i.e., to increase annual tourist arrivals to 250,000. The government now sees McKinsey’s projection as an “aspiration”, and has decided to stick with the Tenth Plan targets instead. An aspiration? Do we really mean it? Do we really think that 250,000 tourists a year is a goal to aspire for? Or our we being excessively polite? Do we actually mean that our consultants are wrong? That 250,000 tourists a year cannot be good for Bhutan?