Bhutan’s tourism industry began in 1974. It was introduced with the primary objective of generating revenue, especially foreign exchange; publicising the country’s unique culture and traditions to the outside world, and to contribute to the country’s socio-economic development . Since then the number of tourists visiting Bhutan has increased from just 287 in 1974 to over 2,850 in 1992 and over 7,000 in 1999. The royal government has always been aware that an unrestricted flow of tourists can have negative impacts on Bhutan’s pristine environment and its rich and unique culture. The government, therefore, adopted a policy of “high value-low volume” tourism, controlling the type and quantity of tourism right from the start.Today tourism is a vibrant industry and is the second highest revenue contributor for national GDP , so the Government seeing its potential recently modified its tourism policy from “ Low Volume” to “Low impact”. The “High value and Low impact” clearly explains the government’s cautious approach to tourism development. In order to maintain high value the government continue using financial mechanism to control volume and promote Bhutan as a high-end destination, while low impact is maintained by ensuring that tourist have a sense of care and respect for Bhutanese culture and environment.
Currently the minimum daily tariff set by the Government for both cultural tours and treks is US$250 for the high season and US$200 for the low season. There is no quota or limit on the number of tourists allowed to visit Bhutan.
Bhutan’s main tourism attractions are its traditional culture and way of life, its religious festivals, historic monuments and its pristine environment. Bhutan has received much international acclaim for its cautious approach to development that places a high priority on conserving the nation’s natural and cultural heritage. Protecting nature and culture is part of the Bhutanese value system and is an important aspect of the traditional way of life in Bhutan, and the tourism policy reflects these concerns. The policy of imposing a high tariff has succeeded in making tourism in Bhutan an exclusive and distinctive experience.