Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bhutan annual tourist cut-off number?

A frequently asked question about Bhutan: How many tourists are allowed into Bhutan each year? What is the annual visitor quota or cut-off?

There is a lot of misinformation out there about entering Bhutan as a tourist. There is one misunderstanding in particular which could negatively affect the Bhutanese tourism industry over time and needlessly keep interested visitors away. All over the Internet and even in travel literature, you will read incorrect statements about an annual cut-off number for tourists allowed to enter Bhutan. This is completely false: there are no such limits in place.

The factor that limits the number of foreign tourists who will reach Bhutan each year not due to an inflexible figure imposed by the Royal Government. The limiting factors are indirect, though strategic. Thanks to that famous tourist tariff, only those travellers with the most motivation will visit Bhutan and this in turn will moderate the impact on the environment and on traditional culture.

Where did the misconception about a tourist cut-off number come from? The early reports of outsiders visiting Bhutan made much of the restrictions and challenges facing the intrepid foreign visitors. Although reputable sources for travel information like the Lonely Planet books and website present the up-to-date facts, there are still articles being written which describe Bhutan as impenetrable to outsiders. The idea of extreme limits on visitor numbers adds mystery and prestige to Bhutan as a destination but ultimately, potential travellers may be scared off by the exaggerated difficulties.

In summary, there is no countable limit to the number of travellers who are 'allowed into' Bhutan each year. The number of people who visit is naturally curbed by the cost and the relative remoteness of the destination. If you are willing to pay the tariff and travel the distance, we will do the rest to bring you into Bhutan.

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