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Tourists and star rated hotels: Welcome to Bhutan

Photo:Zhiwaling Hotel
Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) has announced the hotel ratings (Business Bhutan) where 8 hotels were rated five stars, 6 were rated four and 20 fall in three stars category. And we are given to understand as per the government’s rule only those hotels that have three star ratings and above can host tourists. Going by this calculation, only 34 hotels in the country can rightfully host tourists. Isn’t it something? Of course TCB says 65 two stars rated and 20 one star rated hotels can upgrade themselves to higher ratings within one year and 2 years respectively.

Our government is trying to bring in 100,000 odd tourists by 2012 and its 2010 annual target is 35,000 tourists. We can already see these stars-rated hotels getting busier by the day. And thousands of small hotels will hardly benefit from the increased number of tourists. All these again point to rich folks making bigger bucks. I don’t have the credentials and expertise to criticize the policy. But the impact is for everyone to judge.  
Photo: Uma Paro

Tourists come to Bhutan (or any other country for that matter) from the luxury of their homes, towns and cities around the world for a unique Bhutanese experience. This is on the premise that all tourists are rich people, which is what we assume in the third world country. And these tourists want to see real Bhutan: its serene beauty, its original cuisines, traditional and cultural icons, the way people eat, dress, talk et al.

But in Bhutan they are being treated with food that they have eaten all their lives, the hotel rooms the likes of which they have grown up in, with luxurious swimming pools, refreshing saunas and spas. Apparently I don’t think any tourists would want to experience what they can experience back home. I doubt whether they would want to be treated in extravagant palace-like hotels. They want unique experience, meeting and eating with common people in common restaurants.

Not many tourists get to experience what is real; what is really Bhutan. 

(Photo Credit:


  1. I plan to visit Bhutan for the first time in October and will be very disappointed if I am isolated from mixing with local citizens and eating local cuisine

  2. Thanks for sharing such informative post regarding the Hotels, I was searching the same, now it will help a lot.

    Ref : Hotels in Jaipur



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