Remarkable news from Bhutan - January
Exibition on sacred Bhutanese arts
If you’re travelling to Bhutan, make sure you don’t miss the special exhibition ‘The Sacred Arts of Bhutan’ in Thimpu. With the display of 111 sacred religious antiquities from all over Bhutan, you’ll get a good impression of Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage. Among the artifacts are exquisite bronze images and precious handmade thonkas. The costly pieces not only come from the central monastic body, but also from local communities and private collections. It’s a rare opportunity for both Bhutanese and tourists to see some of the most holy and deeply beloved antique Buddhist art pieces from the country of the Thundering dragon exhibited in one place. You can visit the exhibition ‘Dragon’s gift’ at the Royal Academy of Performing Arts in Thimpu. Already over 3 million people saw the exhibition in six countries. Read more
Shortage on tourist accommodations
This year Bhutan expects around 40.000 tourists to visit the country. And the question is if there are enough qualified hotels and resorts to accommodate them. Presently there are 35 standard hotels with three stars or more. This is the basic standard for (Western) tourists. The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) has registered 119 accommodations, but 65 hotels of them don’t meet the requirements for 3 stars or up. While 20 hotels have only one star, this means only 34 hotels meet the standards of the TCB to properly accommodate tourists. Especially in the east and south there is a shortage of qualified accommodations. At the moment, the TCB is in the process of upgrading the registered hotels. Several hotels are under construction and it is expected that by the end of 2012 22 substandard hotels should meet the 3-star requirements. Another solution that’s investigated, is the investment of local and international investors in establishing top star hotels and resorts all over Bhutan. The arrival of more qualified hotels is necessary, since Bhutan’s government aims at a tourist number of 100.000 visitors by the eind of 2012. Read more
Modernisation of Bhutanese internet
Druknet, Bhutan’s internet service provider which also offers web hosting services and domain registration, has plans for soon going wireless. The company, which is part of Bhutan Telecom Ltd aims at wireless internet access for all its broadband users, without extra charges. Since the end of last year Druknet has a service trial, where WiFi internet access is provided in Bhutan’s capitol Thimpu. Currently the acces is still limited to a radius of 1 kilometer of the Telecom office and a range of 500 meters from indoors. This is only the starting point: Druknet wants to soon cover major locations in Thimpu, Phuentsholding and Paro. The developments show the transition Bhutan is in, moving from the old to a new, more modern society where laptops and wireless internet are as natural as in the West.
Currently about 8000 Bhutanese from 40 different locations use the broadband services of Druknet. A 1000 of them can use the wireless internet. This number will be drastically increased the next years. And there’s more. In order to also give people without broadband connection a good internet access, Druknet wants to sell prepaid vouchers. These vouchers should give access to WiFi. This not only comes in handy for locals without broadband, but also for the foreign tourists that want to surf the internet while in Bhutan. Read more
Hydropower at centre of Bhutan’s economic policy
Since his crowning in 2006, king Jigme Kesar Wangchuck aims at modernising the country without losing the unique concept of Gross National Happiness. Not only is he eastablising a constitutional democracy with members of parliament elected by the people; he also invests in Bhutan’s fragile economy. Keywords are a sustainable development and a selfproviding economy. Magical word in this is ‘hydropower’. The national government aims at developing hydropower as a sustainable source of income in order to meet the demands of the 700.000 Bhutanese. The national target is providing electricity for all Bhutanes by 2020. Since the end of the 1990 the country uses hydropower not only for internal use, but also exports hydropower to India. The export revenues from this export already make up almost 50% of Bhutan’s Gross national income.
With its roots grounded in Buddhism, Bhutan has a deep reverence for nature: about 80% of the country consists of vegetation with flowing rivers. And it’s exactly those rivers that provide the energy necessary for generating hydropower. Yet in order to prevent the country of falling into traps of short-term goals, with a depleted and polluted environment, it’s national policy is firstly ensuring that the natural environment and water resources are protected and nurtured. What’s left can be used for hydropower as the backbone of the country’s national ecoomy. Read more