With A New International Airport At Gelephu, Bhutan Planning To Increase Connectivity And Tourism

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by Shreya Rathod

The Buddhist Kingdom in the Himalayas, Bhutan, is a mesmerising place with a dramatic landscape. In fact, the country has a lot of potential for tourism. But due to poor connectivity, there is a lack of tourism. To tackle this issue, Bhutan is planning for a new international airport in Gelephu!

Bhutan Planning A New International Airport In Gelephu

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Credits: Canva

The tiny Himalayan monarchy sandwiched between India and China still has poor air connection, despite the fact that it is not as remote as it once was. Apart from the hill town of Bagdogra, only a select few places, including New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangkok, Dhaka, and Singapore, provide direct flights to the nation’s sole international airport.

According to a Times Of India report, Dorji Shardul, director general of the Department of Tourism, revealed the plans for a new international airport that will be located in Gelephu, close to the Indian border. He stated that the existing domestic airport is being upgraded. However, the timeline is not revealed yet.

Also Read: Book A Longer Stay In Bhutan And Save Money But Only If You Pay In Dollars

Bhutan already has three domestic airports in Bumthang, Yongphulla and Gelephu. With just one international airport in Paro, where only a few certified pilots are allowed to fly due to its topography. The director general stated that they are also planning to increase the number of places that offer direct flights to Bhutan.

Connectivity Has An Effect On The Country’s Tourism And Trade Sector

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Credits: Canva

The director general shed light on Bhutan’s trade and tourism sectors. He stated that poor connectivity has proven to be a huge challenge for trade and tourism. After being closed for two years, the country welcomed foreign tourists with open arms. However, with the Sustainable Development Fee raised three times more than usual, tourists weren’t happy about the reopening.

Even if travellers from India are not considered to be “international” tourists in Bhutan, since September even they have to pay an SDF of ₹1,200 per night. The new admission requirements are in line with the “High Value, Low Impact” tourist ethos that the nation has promoted ever since it opened its doors to foreign visitors in 1974.

Also Read: Indo-Bhutan Rail Link: Updates So Far, Progress And All You Need To Know About It

Even though the nation is heavily reliant on tourism for income, attracting “high value” tourists is intended to prevent its delicate Himalayan habitat from being disturbed by a highly commercialised tourist sector.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva