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Polls in West Bengal (India) slow down Phuntsholing- www.bhutanvisitors.com

April 18 2014: As the west Bengal state of India went to the polls yesterday, Phuntsholing town wore a deserted look. Business was unusually slow, as most of the shops and other business entities in the main town remained closed. With the border gates closed, the otherwise busy town almost came to a standstill. Not many cars were plying and only a few shops were opened with even fewer customers. “Most of Bhutanese have obtained trade licenses and given it to business people from outside the country. And I think that’s why most shops in the town are closed.  Some shopkeepers said since most of their staffs are Indians; they had to keep their shops closed. The Bhutanese employees, who work in private industries but live across the border, stayed in hotels. The arrangement was made by their employer. Some adjusted through shift systems. People of west Bengal voted yesterday in the first of the five-phase Lok Sabha poll in four constituencies of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar. The gates opened at 6pm yesterday.

 

Nation observes Her Majesty’s birth anniversary – www.bhutanvisitors.com

Jun 5 2013: Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen turned 23 yesterday. Her Majesty was born on June 4, 1990. In an informal birthday celebration held at the Lingkhana palace earlier today, the armed forces and the members of the Taxi Association of Bhutan offered Tashi Khadar and a birthday cake to Her Majesty. After the ceremony, they were granted an audience by His Majesty the King and the Gyaltsuen. The taxi drivers came from all over Bhutan. They were granted soelra by Their Majesties. Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen is from Pangtey in Bumthang. Her Majesty went to Little Dragon Montessori and then to Sunshine School. Her Majesty had studied for a year at the Changangkha Lower Secondary school and completed her Middle Secondary School from Lungtenzampa. After Lungtenzampa, Her Majesty went to St Joseph’s Convent in Kalimpong and Saint Lawrence in India. Her Majesty then went to Regents College in the UK. Meanwhile, coinciding with Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen’s 23rd birth anniversary, the World Environment Day was marked yesterday, in the capital. The theme this year is ‘Think, Eat, Save- a global initiative on addressing food waste’. Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen who is the patron of the environment sector graced the day. Her majesty participated in a tree plantation event held to mark the day. The effort is a contribution towards Her Majesty’s plan to greens cape and beautify Bhutan. Starting this year, the World Environment Day will be observed on June 4 coinciding with Her Majesty’s birthday instead of June 5.

Druk air spreads wings to Hongkong and Mumbai – www.bhutanvisitors.com
The Department of Civil Aviation has completed all the formalities to launch air routes to Mumbai.  But the department is yet to sign the Air Service Agreement for Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Qatar has also expressed an interest to sign the Air Service agreement with Bhutan.  “…The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was asking when this could be possible but we are doing a lot more detailed studies on this,” said the Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation, Wangdi Gyaltshen.The opening of air routes to Hongkong and Mumbai was planned based on the increasing number of tourists’ arrivals from Japan, Taiwan, China, Korea, the US and western parts of India. “Hongkong is another important gateway as far as tourists coming in from Japan, China, Korea and US, we have seen good growth of tourists,” said the Managing Director of Drukair, Tandin Jamso. He also said they should be able to tap the western and southern parts of India by having an air route in Mumbai.Apr 18 2013: Come 2014, the National Airline, Drukair will operate international flights to Hong Kong and Mumbai. At present, Drukair has international flights to Singapore, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Kolkata and New Delhi in India.

17th April 2013: A German completed a non-stop run of 265 Kilometre from Trongsa to Paro Taktsang, today. Norman Buecher ran to raise funds for the Save the Children project in Bhutan- www.bhutanvisitors.com

After packing all his necessities in a small bag, 35-year-old, Norman Buecher started his race at 6 am on April 14 from Trongsa town. He aims to reach Taktshang monastery in Paro within 60 hours. Norman says he runs for a cause. “I have always had in my mind that other people can have a good thing happen out of my race. Other than the race when I go back to Germany and we want to race there for the Save the Children project in Bhutan. For every minute that I run in that race, you get to save that amount of money for Save the Children”.

Norman ran across Pelela, and Wangdue, crossed the dochula pass and finally arrived in Paro, today. He ran alone, sticking to motor able roads the entire time. Norman ran day and night stopping only for short breaks on his route. Norman reached his final stop at Taktsang at about 2 pm completing his run in 55 hours, way ahead of his target of 60 hours.

20th March as the international day of happiness –www.bhutanvisitors.com

Mar 18 2013: Starting this year, 20th March will be observed as the international day of happiness as declared by the UN, last year. To celebrate the first international happiness day, Bhutan has declared the day a government holiday.The international day of happiness was declared after the UN with 193 members, unanimously, adopted Bhutan’s proposal of happiness for a holistic approach towards development in 2011.The date for the celebrations is also marked as 20 March, as it is said to be an equinox day when day and night are of equal length. The International Day of Happiness is supposed to be a movement to promote happiness as a universal goal of human beings. The theme this year is to promote gathering of families, friends and communities. Several educational and cultural activities will be organized across the country to observe the day.

The Google car installed with a camera to map the streets- www.bhutanvisitors.com

The company is developing a photo database in the country for its popular map feature. In a few months, it should become possible to view parts of Bhutan using Google Maps with Street View. The Street View of Google Maps is a popular feature that allows people to virtually explore and navigate neighbourhoods through panoramic street-level images.  The feature is currently available for 48 countries, according to Google. The company began using its own vehicles mounted with special cameras to drive around Thimphu city, taking street-level photographs of public locations, yesterday.  It eventually will move to other parts of the country.“This activity represents a long-term investment with the objective of capturing imagery across Bhutan over the next few years,” it is stated in a Google press release.“We’re excited about the opportunity to work with the ministry of information and communications to launch the driving of Street View in Bhutan,” said Google product manager, Divon Lan. “We believe that Street View imagery of Bhutan will create new ways for people around the world to view Bhutan’s wonders and, by doing so, help create better awareness of this unique country, and attract more tourism.”Information and communications secretary, Dasho Kinley Dorji, who launched the driving and image taking phase of Street View, yesterday, said that the feature will allow more people to discover Bhutan, and help them plan their journeys to the country. However, a few concerns about privacy and sensitive areas were raised by observers. It is stated in the press release that Google will blur human faces and license plates of vehicles. “In addition, Google is extremely responsive to any requests received from users to further blur any images that feature them,” it is added.

Dasho Kinley Dorji pointed out that Google has agreed that it will respect people’s privacy and sensitivities, such as cultural and spiritual sites, and border areas.  He added that it has been clearly specified to the company what can and cannot be imaged.  He further pointed out that the Google vehicles will be driven by Bhutanese drivers, and that imagery will be limited to most of the major tourist areas. He pointed out that the idea is that Google will capture imagery similar to how a visitor can stand on the street and observe. “Beyond that, there’re not doing, they’re not going into lhakhangs, monasteries … dzongs, bedrooms or kitchens,” he explained. However, he said that if a private establishment wished for Google to capture imagery inside their premises, it would be up to Google.“What we really want to do is make the best use of technology, and this is amazing technology, for our benefit, and, at the same time, avoiding the risks,” he said.

His Majesty the King today granted audience to the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador, Robert Blake, at the Lingkana Palace. Mr. Blake arrived in the country on a two-day visit on Tuesday- www.bhutanvisitors.com

14th December 2012: The Assistant Secretary also called on the Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley at the Gyalyong Tshogkhang yesterday. Lyonchhoen and the Assistant Secretary spoke of Bhutan’s development process and Lyonchhoen’s recent visits to the remote parts of the country to see the progress of the development projects.The two also spoke of food security and Bhutan’s goal to achieve cereal sufficiency, and the political developments in the country. The Assistant Secretary said that one of the difficult tasks in the region was to have a responsible and a responsive government. He, therefore, congratulated Lyonchhen and the government for the progress of development and for understanding the need to make themselves accountable in a responsible manner.Assistant Secretary Robert Blake also extended collaboration in education to expand relations between the two nations- to attract more universities from the United States for the education city and for more Bhutanese to avail higher education in the universities in the US.

Journalism students from Singapore on GNH tour-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Aug 8 2012: Fourteen journalism students from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore are in the Country on a GNH study tour. The students are working on producing feature stories, photo essays and video documentaries on various aspects of Bhutan to be released in Singapore.Trinh Hoang Ly, 14, is working on two stories- rural-urban migrations and on organic farming. Sharing her experiences she said the strong purpose and hope the Bhutanese people have behind their hardship is an inspiration for them. “I am amazed looking at the hope and purpose the people live in the city,” she said. “There is one boy we talked to- he was living away from his parents since he was six years old. He said he has been living with different relatives since then to pursue his studies. He said he feels lonely as he has no one to share his emotions with. However, even with such a sad story for the whole time he was smiling and when I asked he said happiness is all I have and I want to complete my studies and bring my parents to the city,” narrates Trinh Hoang Ly. Ly’s cameraman, Lim Quah Chiang Benny, said his experience in Bhutan was exciting one though challenging. “There is a big difference in working at Singapore and Bhutan. It was a very exciting moment. I also faced lot of challenges of climbing the slopes and in going down steep to get the interviews and shots. But the Bhutanese hospitality helped me overcome all those though I am afraid of heights.” Apart from Benny and Ly some stories the other students are working on are about the Drayangs, tourism, sports and traditional folktales. The Associate Professor, Cherian George, who is also the director of Asian journalism fellowship, said Bhutan’s unique development model is something which they can look upon. “What we find the most interesting about Bhutan is that your country has decided to look at growth as an end to need rather than end itself. And of course the end that everybody wants is happiness and I think this idea of looking beyond GDP indicators and trying to find what exactly matters to human being. This is something we find valuable and unique from all countries,” said Cherian George, who is also leading the group. He also described the Bhutanese people being media friendly as different from Singapore. “What we really appreciated is the level of access we got from the government officials, spokesman and so on; how easily the people were welcoming starting from ordinary people to right up to the top. This is very different from Singapore that made us much easy to operate.”The team will leave the Country on Friday.

Bathpalathang airport shares similar fate- www.bhutanvisitors.com: Jul 17 2012: A month after Drukair suspended flight operations to Yongphula domestic airport in Trashigang, same fate has befallen Bathpalathang domestic airport. Drukair cancelled its flight operations to Bathpalathang domestic airport from the beginning of this month. The flights were suspended on the recommendation of the Safety and Quality Department after they discovered several cracks that have developed on the runway and gravels surfaced on the top. According to the department, the cracks and pebbles may cause tyre puncture and damage hydraulic pipe of the aircraft while landing. Hydraulic pipe is used to transport fuel and air to aero engines. The General Manager of Drukair’s domestic flight, Namgay Wangchuk, said flight operations to Bumthang and Trashigang will resume after the runways are renovated. Meanwhile, the Department of Civil Aviation has already floated tenders to the interested bidders to carry out maintenance works on the runways of both the airports. The domestic airports were launched for flight operations in December last year

Wangduephodrang Dzong completely gutted: www.bhutanvisitors.com

Jun 25 2012: BREAKING NEWS: A major fire has completely destroyed the 374 years old Wangduephodrang Dzong today. The fire started at around 4 pm, razing one of the oldest and historic fortresses to the ground. Since the Dzong was under renovation before the fire, most of the sacred relics, which were relocated, have been saved. The cause of the fire is yet to be confirmed. Intense heat from the flames which raged unabated for hours, made it impossible for the fire-fighters to go near the Dzong. Also, the Dzong’s structure which follows the counter of a ridge over the Punatshangchu made the task for fire-fighters difficult. The flames fueled by strong winds raged for almost three hours. For hours, the armed forces personnel, De-Suups, PHPA’s staff and the locals tried to contain the blaze. No casualties have been reported.
Upon receiving the news, His Majesty the King and His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo rushed to the scene. The acting Prime Minister, Yeshey Zimba, along with the cabinet members and other officials were also at the scene. Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba calls the incident a national tragedy and a huge loss to the country. The historic fortress was built in the 17th century by Zhandrung Ngawang Namgyal. It was repaired in 1837 after a fire and an earthquake in 1897.All the government machinery will remain closed tomorrow to reflect on the tragedy.

FIRE DESTROY WANGDUEPHODRANG DZONG-www.bhutanvisitors.com

24th June,Sunday, 2012 (Breaking News):The fire started at around 4 pm this afternoon. His Majesty the King and the fourth Druk Gyalpo have arrived at the scene. The acting Prime Minister, Yeshey Zimba is also at the scene. Many are already describing the fire as a major loss to the Kingdom’s cultural heritage.  A major fire disaster is taking place in Wangduephodrang. After almost three hours of razing fire, the one of the oldest and historic fortresses, the Wangduephodrang Dzong is almost completely destroyed.

Bhutan Airlines proposes to suspend its services- www.bhutanvisitors.com

May 29 2012: With less than six months in operation Bhutan Airlines, the first private airline, have proposed the government to temporarily suspend its domestic air services. Responding to this, the Minister for Information and Communications said the government is aware of the problems and their need to temporarily suspend its services.“He said if you don’t have any passengers you need not fly. We don’t want to bear unwanted expenditure just for the sake of flying. I believe Tashi Air had not received a single booking for the past few weeks and for another one month. So they were not operating the flight for the past couple of weeks and next complete month,” said Nandalal Rai, Minister, MoIC. Lyonpo Nandalal Rai said the suspension will be only temporary. “There is no question of withdrawal. They will have to recommence again. At the moment we are assessing the proposal as they are trying to start international air service. But right now due to financial situations we are still discussing about it.”The Chief Executive Officer of the Airline refused to comment. The Bhutan Airlines started their service on 17th December 2011. They fly to Bumthang and Yongphula in Trashigang from Paro.

Druk Air willl fly from Paro to Singapore and Singapore to Paro 2012-www.bhutanvisitors.com

3rd May 2012: Druk Air has signed memorendum with Changi Airport to start its direct flight between Singapore and Bhutan on 1st September 2012. Druk Air is currently planning to fly to Singapore twice a week.

Latest Update on 6th February 2012

Singapore-Paro flights to start on 1st September 2012!

Expected schedule for Singapore - Bhutan is as follow:

Paro - Singapore

Wednesdays & Saturdays

 

FLIGHT NO.

FROM

TO

DEPART

ARRIVAL

ACFT

KB500

PARO (PBH)

KOLKATA (CCU)

KOLKATA (CCU)

SINGAPORE (SIN)

0720

0840

0800

1515

A319

A319

 

Singapore - Paro

Thursdays & Sundays

FLIGHT NO.

FROM

TO

DEPART

ARRIVAL

ACFT

KB501

SINGAPORE (SIN)

KOLKATA (CCU)

KOLKATA (CCU)

PARO (PBH)

0600

0805

0735

0945

A319

A319

 

Flights from Singapore to Bhutan are expected to take 5 hours with a 45-minute refuelling stopover in Kolkata. 
The flight will usually depart Changi Airport around 6 am in the morning.

Tsirang as a tourist destination - www.bhutanvisitors.com

Apr 14 2012: Tsirang Dzongkhag is favoured by many people for its suitable climatic condition. It is also known for its organic vegetables and poultry products. But, the Dzongkhag has not been able to attract many tourists. According to the business community, the Dzongkhag has potential to promote eco-tourism due to its rich bio-diversity. In a meeting with the Economic Affairs Minister, Khandu Wangchuk, the business community asked how the government is planning to promote tourism in the Dzongkhag.  The Minister said Tsirang has potential to become a tourist destination in the future.“Firstly we can promote bird watching, and then when the Sunkosh project comes up it will bring lots of tourist through adventurous activities like boating. We are expecting to bring in more than 100,000 tourists by next year. So we can promote off-season tourist in the Dzongkhags like Tsirang,” said Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk.Issues like promoting floriculture and establishment of cottage industries were also discussed.

Their Majesties attend Paro Tshechu or Festival -www.bhutanvisitors.com
Apr 2 2012: The annual Paro Tshechu began today. His Majesty the King and the Gyaltsun graced the opening. Thousands of Bhutanese and tourists gathered at the Paro Rinpung Dzong to witness the first day of Tshechu. His Majesty the King and the Gyaltsun met and interacted with the Bhutanese and the tourists gathered at the Rinpung Dzong. On the first day of the Tshechu, Nangtens are displayed for public veneration inside the Dzong. Since the Nangtens cannot be taken out of the Dzong for spiritual reasons, the first day of the Tshechu is performed inside the Dzong. Thereafter, it is performed at the Dey-Yangkha outside the Dzong. Among the Nangtens on display is a cymbal retrieved by Terton Sherub Mebar from Nob Tsho Na Pata.  It is believed that by just hearing the sound of the cymbal, one will not be born in the three lower realms of suffering. Today, monks and laymen performed mask dances. Traditional dances were also performed. The five day Tshechu will end on Friday with the unfurling of the Guru Thongdrol

Undercutting in tourism industry in Bhutan – www.bhutanvisitors.com
Mar 31 2012: Tourism sector is the largest contributor in Bhutan’s total revenue. There are hundreds of tour operators in the country, competing in the market. The cut-throat competition has led to undercutting in the minimum daily tariff set for tourists by some tour agents. Some of the owners of the new entrants said they are facing lots of problems. “The Government and the Tourism Council of Bhutan have told us that if the tour operators don’t follow the set rules and regulations, their visas will not be approved. While few of us are strictly following the rules, we are wondering how other tour operators are managing to get their visas approved although they practice undercutting,” said one of the owners.Meanwhile, a group of tour operators are planning to make a draft to pledge to the government to look upon the issue. According to the tourism policy, tourists are expected to pay a minimum tariff of US Dollars 250 a day during peak seasons and 200 during off-season

‘Bhutan Fever’ in Japan- www.bhutanvisitors.com
Mar 26 2012: One of the Japanese tourists said there is a ‘Bhutan Fever’ in Japan. Going by the number of Japanese visiting the country, it is indeed true. According the Tourism Council of Bhutan, within the last two months the country saw 583 Japanese tourists, surpassing all other 58 countries.

More tourists visit the National Museum in paro, Bhutan- www.bhutanvisitors.com
Mar 17 2012: Number of tourists visiting the National Museum in Paro is going up every year. It has recorded over 2000 tourists within just three month this year. In 2010, over 32,000 tourists were recorded. However, the number last year was slightly down because of the damage caused by the earthquake to the Museum. The earthquake destroyed the wall of the Ta Dzong and it had to be closed for few months. “Every year there is about 30-35 percent increase in the number of tourists and our target is that by 2015, we are targeting the visiting of tourist to around 100,000 every year including SAARC countries, others and  locals,” said Phuntshok Tashi, Director, National Museum. The Director said besides earning revenue, the Museum also imparts valuable knowledge to the visitors on Bhutanese culture. “I personally observed that in the past years, the visitors are not only interested in the mountains and landscapes but they also want to know the real and unique culture,” the Director added. Tourists from all walks of life visit the Museum. The peak season is from March to June and September to November. The Museum houses over 4000 artifacts from ancient arms to household items and masks. It was established in 1968 and was opened to the visitors since early 1980s.

Wanderlust votes Bhutan second favorite- www.bhutanvisitors.com
Mar 16 2012: Bhutan was voted as a favorite travel destination after Japan by the readers of a UK-based travel magazine, Wanderlust. Bhutan scored 96.27 percent and won a silver award with only 0.6 percent behind Japan.The Tourism Council of Bhutan received a certificate from the Wanderlust magazine awarding Bhutan a top country destination status. The magazine conducts survey based on satisfaction levels of their past travel. Bhutan also made it to top 10 finalists in 2009 and was also awarded silver in 2005.

Their Majesties join Japanese community to mark Japan tsunami anniversary-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Mar 11 2012: His Majesty the King and the Gyaltshuen joined the Japanese community in Thimphu today to mark the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan last year. Their Majesties offered butter lamps and prayers for the victims at Changgangkha Monastery.Over a hundred Japanese community led by the Resident Representative, Tomoki Nitta, also joined Their Majesties in offering the prayers and butter lamps. Later, His Majesty and the Gyaltshuen interacted with the Japanese and expressed condolences. Some of the Japanese said they are extremely touched by their Majesties taking out time to be with them and offer prayers and butter lamps for the victims. Some of them said that this will also strengthen a relationship between the two nations and also at the people to people level. The Prime Minister, Jigmi Y Thinley, and Finance Minister were also present at the ceremony.

Punakha Domche concludes, Tshechu(Festival) begins Today-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Mar 3 2012: The three-day annual Punakha Domche concluded today with Nob Chu Shag Ni or the symbolic immersion of the sacred relic of Rangjung Kharsa Pani into the Mochhu. The ceremony was presided over by His Holiness the Je Khenpo. Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, and their Royal Highnesses attended the last day of Punakha Domche. Thousands of people from across the country and tourists attended the Domche. During the final day, mask dances of Dochhula Tshechhu were also performed.  Pazaps or warriors from the Wang Tsho-Chen-Gyed enacted the ancient military scenes of the 17th century. Punakha Dromche is dedicated to the guardian deities Mahakala and Pelden Lhamo. Meanwhile, the three-day Punakha Tshechu will begin from today. The Tshechu will depict the entire history of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal.

Bhutan Nomads’ festival, participants not happy with sale-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 24 2012: Highlanders attending the Nomad’s festival in Bumthang are pretty much worried that they might not be able to sell their products this time.While, for the organisers, buying and selling is just a part of the event. The main objective is to promote and sustain the Nomad’s way of life. Nomadic communities from Bumthang, Haa, Gasa, Thimphu, Trashiyangtse and Wangduephodrang are once again displaying their products for sale. These include handmade products like bags and belts made from yak’s fur, medicinal herbs, dairy and buckwheat products. But those who participated in the festival aren’t as optimistic as they were before. Sale this time isn’t as good as it used to be before.“We cannot make good income because all the products that we are displaying are nomadic products and this village is well known for such products. Only tourists and Dashos from Thimphu buy the products. So sale isn’t really good,” said one of the participants. However, for those participating for the first time remain hopeful to earn some additional cash income. “I am participating for the first time. I am hoping to sell as much as possible. Today I sold quite a few. I think sale will improve,” said Lam Dorji from Sephu Gewog in Wangduephodrang. The festival is being organised by the Wangchuck Centennial Park. It says the festival much broader objective than the sale of products. “One of the objectives of having this festival is to encourage our nomads to continue staying in the border areas because that is very important and basically to make other citizens appreciate their lifestyle. I think it is not only how much people can sell their nomadic products or livestock products. May be they have not been able sell much but I think other benefits are equally there,” said D.S Rai, the Chief Forestry Officer of the Park. The event is taking place at Nagsiphel under Chhoekhor Gewog. The Nomads festival was first held in December 2009.

Nation celebrates His Majesty’s 32's Birthday-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 21 2012: His Majesty the King and Gyeltsuen joined with the people of Sarpang to celebrate His Majesty’s 32nd Birth Anniversary today. Thousands of people gathered at Gelephu public ground to mark the day. His Majesty the King and Gyeltsuen were received in a traditional chipdrel ceremony followed by Jepai Pawo and Marchang. Rabdey, civil servants, thromdey, armed forces and the public of Sarpang Dzongkhag offered Kusung Thugi Mendrel to His Majesty the king a guard of honour was also presented by the Armed Forces. Students from different schools then performed the March past. Addressing the gathering, His Majesty the King expressed gratitude to the fourth Druk Gyalpo for giving him knowledge, skills and trust and to the people for wonderful support and prayers. Various cultural activities and entertainments were performed by the students. Their Majesties took part in the entertainments programmes. His Majesty the King and Gyeltsuen personally met and interacted with the people and students. The day ended with Trashi Labey. A lunch was also served to the people gathered.
Celebrations in Thimphu and other DzongkhagsIn Thimphu, thousands of people gathered at the Changlimithang stadium to observe the day. His Royal Highness Prince JigyelUgyenWangchuck also graced the occasion. The Chief Guest, Minister for Works and Human Settlement,Yeshey Zimba, highlighted the significance of the day. He called on the nation to join him in paying tribute to His Majesty the King on His Birthday. “Let us all, especially the youth who are here today and those across the country, pledge to His Majesty the King to stop indulging in unwanted activities like drug abuse and other problems.”
Students from different schools in Thimphu performed various cultural programmes as part of the celebration.  In Punakha the celebration was graced by Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck.Over in Paro, His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Dorji Wangchuck graced the celebration at the Ugyen Pelri Palace ground. Students from schools in Paro, Gewog dancers, and mask dancers performed various cultural activities. Hundreds of people took part in the celebrations.Similar celebrations, including the offering of butter lamps for His Majesty’s long life, and for the peace and prosperity of the Kingdom, were observed in all the 20 Dzongkhags.

Bhutan Nomad Festival Tour –www.bhutanvisitors.com
23rd Feb – 25th Feb 2012: Wangchuck Centennial Park will be organizing the Annual Nomads’ Festival at the Head Office Ground at Nasiphel, Chhokhortoe geog in Bumthang.The Nomads’ festival will showcase the tradition and culture of the nomads including dairy products, handicrafts, weaves, and nomadic way of life. It will also have other major attractions like traditional games-soksum, degor, pungdo, zigdum, khuru, archery in traditional bows, horse riding, yak riding, and dances by the Nomads’ and local community  besides hordes of Bumthang cuisines like Zambuli, khuli, puta, pin etc. Visitors interested in trekking can do so along the recently restored Orochhoto and Nganglhakhang-Tandingang (popularly called Bumthang cultural trek) trail. Accommodation, food, and hot stone bath facilities are available in the farm houses at reasonable rates. During the three day mega event hygienic food stalls put up by public will cater to the visitors. The festival will also have representatives from the various Renewable Natural Resource (RNR) sectors showcasing newer farm technologies, machines, and products. Bumthang is now connected by Air from Paro and Yonphula and both the Bhutan Airlines (Tashi Air) and Druk Air will be offering 40% discounted special promotional fares till 28th February 2012. And Nasiphel is 1 hour drive from Bumthang. Bumthang has other attractions like Kurjay monastery, Jambay monastery, Mebartsho(Burning lake), Ogyenchholing museum(Tang), Wangdichholing palace etc.

Kudung of Late Dungse Rinpoche flown back to Paro from Yonphula-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 16 2012: The Kudung of Late Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche was flown to Paro from Yonphula this morning. The Kudung remained in Trashigang for 10 days. Dungse Garab Rinpoche presided over a prayer ceremony at Yonphula Ugyen Dho-nga Choekhorling Lhakhang for the Kudung. After the prayers, the Kudung was escorted in a traditional chipdrel procession from the Lhakhang to the Yonphula airport. Yesterday, thousands of people from Samdrup Jongkhar, Pemagatshel and nearby areas came there to pay their last respects. The final rites will be held on March 3 at Dagophu in Paro.

Bhutanese living in Australia participate in National Multicultural festival-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 15 2012: More than 100 Bhutanese from Australia-Bhutan Association of Canberra participated in the National Multicultural festival at Canberra in Australia. The celebration took centre stage in Australia’s national capital with representatives from more than 150 countries taking part in various programmes such as music, dancing, and food. Nearly 400,000 people attended the festival. The festival is an annual event. The Australia-Bhutan Association of Canberra put up stallsto showcase Bhutanese cuisine and traditional dance items. The stall attracted more than 20,000 people in three days. One of the advisors of the Association, Tsheten Dorji said the festival was aimed at promoting Bhutanese culture and tradition in the Australian Capital Territory and to foster friendship between Bhutan and Australia. The Australia-Bhutan Association comprises of students and their families. The three-day festival ended on Sunday.

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Drukair to fly only once to Bumthang and Yonphula-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 9 2012: After operating his first domestic commercial flight from Paro to Bathapalathang on December 22 last year, the business has not been good for Drukair. The General Manager of the Drukair’s domestic flight said that from next week they will operate only once a week from Paro to Bumthang and Yonphula. Till now they have been operating twice a week. According to the airline, from December 27 till yesterday, only 30 passengers boarded the flight from Paro to Bumthang. Drukair is,however,hopeful that the business will be better from March once the tourist season starts.

PATA promoting responsible tourism in Bhutan-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 7 2012: More than 184 tour operators from 14 countries including 21 from Bhutan attended the third PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference in Paro. The event is designed for tourism professionals who are dedicated to the growing niche segment of adventure and responsible tourism. The conference was focused on attracting high end international buyers in selling brand Bhutan in their markets. At the closing yesterday, international and local tour operators exhibited various tourism related products. This is being done to strengthen the relationship among the tour operators and at the same time connect with international buyers in future. The conference was organized by the Tourism Council of Bhutan in collaboration with Pacific Asia Travel Association and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators The theme of the third PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart 2012 was “high value tourism, low impact footprints”.

National Search and Rescue Team launched-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 3 2012: The Department of Disaster Management launched National Search and Rescue Team (NSRT) today. The team was formed to respond effectively and efficiently during disasters. It has 20 members from different ministries and agencies.This multi-sectoral group has been formed looking at the capacities in search and rescue operations by different agencies which could be put into use during emergency situations. Speaking at the launch, the Director General of the Department of Disaster Management, Namgay Wangchuk, said they would be deputed to the 20 Dzongkhags and the Gewogs to train the Gewog search and rescue team and also they would be acting as a master trainer. “They will have this master expertise in tackling various hazards in various techniques and skills.Also if they are any major disaster they will be deployed as a rapid response force to save the life.” The team members were also provided with equipment necessary for search and rescue operations.

Late Dungse Rinpoche’s Kudung arrives in Bhutan-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Feb 1 2012: The Kudung of late Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche arrived in Paro from New Delhi today. On arrival to Paro airport, the Kudung was received by Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, National Assembly Speaker Jigme Tshultim, Finance Minister Wangdi Norbu and devotees. Hundreds of devotees lined up along the roadside leading to Dagophu under Lamgong Gewog and received blessings from the Kudung. The final rites will be carried out at Dagophu on March 3. The Kudung will be kept in Paro till 4thFebruary for the public to receive blessings. Before being flown to Bhutan, the Kudung was received by the Bhutanese embassy in New Delhi yesterday. About 100 Bhutanese residing in Delhi came to receive blessing from the Kudung. The Kudung will be flown to Yonphula where it will be taken to Rangjung Woesel Choeling monastery in Trashigang.  It will also be taken to Chador Lhakhang in Bartsam and Yonphula Lhakhang and back to Paro on February 15. Born in 1931, late Dungse Rinpoche was a prominent master of Nyingma lineage, a renowned teacher and an author of numerous books on Buddhist teachings. Dungse Rinpoche passed away on December 27 at California in United States. Rinpoche last visited Bhutan in October 2009, on the invitation of Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley.

India’s 63rd Republic Day-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Jan 26 2012: The Indian Community gathered at the Indian embassy in Thimphu to celebrate India’s 63rd Republic day, today. The Gyalpoi Zimpoen,Dasho Penjore, and other senior government officials were also present at the celebration. The celebrations began with the hoisting of Indian national flag. The Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Pavan K Varma read out the President of India’s address to the gathering.  In her address, the President said that India should set example before the democratic world of progress and growth. “We seek to build bridges of co-operation and friendship with all the countries of the world. We constructively engage with international community to find responses to global challenges. The role and stature of India has been growing and our nation has been scaling up to the ladder of the comity of nations,” reads the message. The Republic Day of India commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India came into force.

Rare cat trapped on camera-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Jan 25  2012: A conservation survey in Wangchuck Centennial Park, for the first time using camera trapping exercise, records an evidence of snow leopard in the country. The survey was a part of snow leopard prey base study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund. The survey took two months to complete.The survey was done by the field staff and conservationist, based on information provided by villagers on the sightings. Snow Leopards are sparsely distributed in Central and South Asia at an elevation as high as 5,000 metres above sea level. As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature, snow leopards are listed as endangered, with wild population estimating between 6,000- 7,000.
The main threats to snow leopard’s survival are loss of habitat and prey, poaching and human-wildlife conflict. According to WWF-Bhutan website, the survey will help in the estimation of the population of the prey base of snow leopards, which in turn, will provide information about the likely population of the snow leopard that could be supported. The traps also recorded some of the snow leopard’s prey such as red fox, Tibetan wolf, Himalayan serow, marmot and musk deer.

Heavy losses in first month for Drukair and Tashi Air(Bhutanairlines)-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Thursday, January 19, 2012: Both airlines, Drukair, and Bhutan Airlines suffered heavy losses in the first month of domestic air services. Tuesday marked a month since domestic air services launched.Private airline Bhutan Airlines’ total income was slightly higher than the national airline’s, at about Nu 624,000 to Drukair’s Nu 554,000. But Bhutan Airlines’ expenditure, based on operating cost estimates provided by the airline, was also slightly higher than Drukair’s at around Nu 2,029,664 compared to about Nu 1,264,000.“We’re certainly making a loss,” Bhutan Airlines CEO, David Young, said. He pointed out that it is the middle of the tourist lean season, and that the airline did not expect high load factors. But he also said the load factor was lower than anticipated. The airline had experienced a load factor of 14-15 percent.Drukair general manager for domestic operations, Namgay Wangchuk, said the national airline was aware that it would not be making money during the initial start off. He said that since the airline is obligated to follow its schedule when there are passengers, flights even with only passenger had to be conducted. He said that if it was not done it would not be good for domestic air services.Both airlines have conducted a number of flights, where their aircraft has flown empty, either to drop to Bumthang and Trashigang, or pick up passengers coming to Paro. A few flights have been conducted with as little as single passenger.“It’s a very expensive business for us,” David Young said. “Until business picks up dramatically, it will be a loss.” But he added that it is a requirement prior to commencing the private airline’s international operations, and that the Tashi chairman has a “genuine wish to provide the domestic air services to the Bhutanese people.”
However David Young said that there have been domestic bookings and interest for the upcoming tourist season. Drukair has not received any bookings yet.The total incomes of the airlines was calculated based on revenue figures provided by the two airlines, while the expenditure was calculated based on operating costs estimates provided by both airlines.Drukair’s Namgay Wangchuk, said that a Paro-Bumthang-Paro, costs the airline around Nu 152,000, and a Paro-Trashigang-Paro, costs around Nu 200,000.Bhutan Airlines’ David Young said a hour of operations costs USD 2,600 or Nu 135,200 (at exchange rate of Nu 52). Based on flight time from Paro-Yonphula,Trashigang,-Paro, the private airline spends USD 4,200 or Nu 218,400 for flying this sector. While on the Paro-Batpalathang, Bumthang-Paro flights, the airline spends USD 2,600, he said.Combined, the two airlines carried out 27 scheduled flights and two charters. They transported at least 133 passengers. However, some of these passengers were non-paying passengers, and some were children, infants, and airline staff, who avail discounts.Drukair ferried 92 of these passengers, most of them to Bumthang as its Trashigang flights were suspended after a single combined commercial and proving flight on December 27. Bhutan Airlines ferried at least 38 passengers, but also conducted two charters. No information was available on how many passengers were on board the charters.Meanwhile, Drukair’s Yonphula flights remain suspended due to not meeting certain regulatory requirements in its aircraft’s flight manual.Drukair CEO, Tandin Jamso, said the airline hoped to resume scheduled flight by the end of January.Whether the suspension is affecting Drukair, Tandin Jamso said, “Not at the moment. The bookings are low and even if there is demand, Tashi Air (Bhutan Airlines) is available to operate.”Both airlines are currently charging promotional fares.

The sacred mask dances of Momring-bhutanvisitors.com
Wednesday, January 18, 2012:Village elders in Momring under Lauri Gewog in Samdrup Jongkhar are worried that some of their sacred mask dances, passed on from generation to generation, may soon disappear.The sacred mask dances are unique to their village and now only a few frail, elderly mask dancers know how to dance these dances.The dances are performed during the annual tshechu festival. One of them is known as the Keng cham. It is performed by 11 men wearing skeleton masks and bare minimum costumes. Years ago, this dance was performed naked.Last week, as the men performed the solemn dance, the villagers watched reverentially, hands held together, murmuring prayers as they have always done.“Over the last seven to eight years, we have been facing difficulties finding mask dancers. The young people have all left the village in search of jobs and only the elderly are left behind,” said Yangay.This time round though, a few civil servants from the village who are working in the capital and other places came back to the village especially to perform the dance.“We practiced for more than a month after office hours and during weekends. That’s how we were able to perform during the tshechu,” said Tandin Wangdi.Tandin and his friends are happy that for once they have been able to come back to their village but it is uncertain whether they can come back year after year to keep alive the tradition.The village elders are aware of that and they have a plan. They will train the younger school going children to perform the mask dances.This year a few children, with some encouragement, performed at the tshechu. They jumped and twirled around, their tiny hands and feet moving in perfect sync with the more elderly and experienced dancers.If their performance is anything to go by, it is highly unlikely that the sacred mask dances of Momring will die and disappear into the annals of history.

Bhutan will soon have 11th newspapers(The Bhutanese)-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Friday, January 13, 2012: Bhutan will soon have 11 newspapers. The latest entrant in the market “The Bhutanese” will be launched on February 21.The paper’s CEO and owner, Tenzin Lamsang, a journalist by profession, says they are aware of the competition and the market scenario.“We know the risk we are taking. We know what the returns will be. Yes, we know the market situation. We are aware but we know we can do it successfully by focusing on quality.”He may well be. There are already ten newspapers and given the kingdom’s population size and the limited advertisement money, financial sustainability is a big concern.The Ministry of Information and Communications says it will go on approving as many applications as long they fulfill the criteria under the Bhutan InfoCom and Media Act.The Secretary of the Information and Communications Ministry, Dasho Kinley Dorji, says they cannot stop any good proposal from entering the market.“The Bhutan InfoCom and Media Act allows people who meet the criteria to start media (houses). What is happening is, it is bit scrambled, that is why the ministry has come up with guidelines.”90 percent of the advertisement revenue comes from the government. How that money should be shared is being debated.Many in the Bhutanese media argue that the money should not be given on rotation among the existing media houses or depending on their business contacts. It should be decided by the reach and the readership.“The government should have a very good advertisement policy, not divide it among the newspapers on rotation basis,” said Mindu Dorji, an editor with Bhutan Observer.Others however do not agree. They argue that such a move will result in the demise of some of the newspapers. And that it is not fair to ask new newspapers to compete with older, better established ones.For now, all the media houses are struggling. Some are venturing out into other businesses to survive.Bharat Subba, an employee with Bhutan Today, said “it is difficult to sustain ourselves on the add money alone. We are trying to diversify our businesses.”“Today, there are ten of us and all of us are actually looking for the same advertisement in the market,” said Chencho Tshering, the Managing Director of Kuensel.Looking at the developments, where and who gets the advertisement needs to be decided and decided fast.

The first Dochula Druk Wangyel Tshechu (Festival) in Bhutan –www.bhutanvisitors.com
The first Dochula Druk Wangyel Tshechu (Festival) will be held at Dochula from 9 a.m onwards on the 13th of December 2011. Everyone is welcome to witness the first Druk Wangyel Festival and also enjoy the panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range as the sky is clearer during this time of the year; however, you must also remember to cover yourself in warm clothes as it will be cold at Dochula during December. For more information and detail itinerary of the festival you can visit us at www.bhutanvisitors.com

His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan receive warm welcome-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Thursday, November 17, 2011:His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen who are in Japan on a state visit were received with a grand welcome ceremony at the Tokyo Imperial palace yesterday morning.Their Majesties were received by the Crown Prince Naruhito at the palace entrance. His Majesty was then presented a guard of honour. Hundreds of Japanese students greeted Their Majesties waving the national flags of the two nations. After the ceremony, His Majesty granted an audience to the Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito in the empress palace. Later at the Akasaka palace, His Majesty met with Empress Michiko. The president of the house of councilors and the speaker of the house of representative co-hosted a lunch for their Majesties the King and the Queen. Senior members of the Japan Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship Association were also present at the lunch.

17th November 2011: Observing Descending Day of Lord Buddha-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Lhabab Duechen or the descending day of Lord Buddha is the most auspicious day for the Bhutanese.It was the day when Lord Buddha returned to earth from the heavenly abode for the salvation of all sentient beings.Offices and schools across the kingdom yesterday remained closed to observe the Lhabab Dhuechen. On th...is day, the people across the kingdom visited Lhakhangs and Goendeys to offer butter lamps and prayers.In the capital Thimphu, thousands of faithful visited the Dechenphu Lhakhang, Tango and Cheri monasteries, the memorial chorten, Tashichoedzong and other Lhakhangs and Goendeys in and around the capital.In Dechenphu Lhakgang, thousands of people waited in long queues to offer butter lamps to the Gyenngyen. The situation was same at the memorial Chorten and other Lhakhangs in the capital.Lhabab Duechen is an auspicious occasion for the Buddhists. Special prayers were also conducted in Rabdeys, Lhakhangs, and Goendeys across the kingdom.According to legend, seven days after Lord Buddha was born, his mother passed away. To save her from vicious cycle of life and death, Lord Buddha left from the celestial realm.On this day, he returned to earth for the benefit of all sentient beings.

The last call of the birds in Bhutan-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Monday, November 7, 2011: Call it climate change or global warming but according to nature lovers, birds which were seen in Thimphu in the 1980s and 1990s have all but disappeared.Farmers in the capital report seeing new weeds and strange birds.The Large Billed Crow, Wood Snipe, Himalayan Monal, Green-tailed Sunbird and Barred Cuckoo were a common sight. Not anymore. They have been replaced by birds which were earlier only found in low-lying areas.Hishey Tshering, a keen bird watcher in Thimphu, said things have changed with nostalgia. He says the familiar chirpings of the birds that he so loved cannot be heard anymore.“The area behind the swimming pool complex was a very good habitat for the Wood Snipe and many other birds. But the development in that area has completely destroyed the habitat.

“The House Crow which is the bird found in low altitude is now in the town area. You are now seeing more house crows than the Large Billed Crow.”
His concerns are shared by Rebecca Pradhan, an Ecologist at the Royal Society for Protection of Nature.“Birds such as Snow Finch use to come in winter after the snow. The Snow Finch and the common finch sit and eat insects (which emerge out of the ground after a snowfall). There are many birds which clean the trees, eat insects and larvae.”Meanwhile, Rufus Sibia, Verditer Flycatcher and Small Nitalva, which were only seen in the lowlands, are seen today in Thimphu.

Tourists give Samdrupjongkhar a surprise visit-bhutanvisitors
Sunday, November 6, 2011: The sleepy town of Samdrup Jongkhar was in for a surprise this week.A group of tourists, travelling around the world in a convoy of custom made Mercedes Benz sports utility vehicles, paid a visit to the border town, attracting a large number of casual onlookers and children to their amusement. The group even decided to make a night halt in the town.Samdrup Jongkhar hardly ever sees tourists except on rare occasions when stray tourists decide to take a sneak peek, spending a night in the hotel downtown, before departing the very next day.
This week was different. Thirty tourists travelling in 15 Mercedes Benz deemed the town worthy of a visit on their trip ‘Journey over the top of the world’.On their part, the tourists were pleasantly surprised.Martin Breuninger, the group leader, said they “have crossed Africa and South America and most parts of the world and never saw so much friendly look so happy. The kids are nice and it is a fantastic experience. That’s one reason why my daughter will come here next year.”
They left Germany in September and have travelled across Europe, Russia, China and Nepal. They left Samdrup Jongkhar on Friday morning for Siliguri.
www.bhutanvisitors.com

Tashi Air to begin operation by year end of 2011.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011: Tashi Air, the Kingdom’s first domestic air service will start operating by the end of this year. It was supposed to start this month. David Young, the CEO of  Tashi Air, attributed the setback to the delay in the construction of the domestic airports.
“The airports were not yet ready. We needed to give training at both the airports.”Tashi Air has already bought a single engine aircraft worth about US$ 3.5 million.
On the safety concerns, the aircraft being equipped with a single engine, he said safety is their first priority.“I have spent about 20 years with civil aviation in Bhutan and our priority is safety first. And I have no doubts about the Pilatus it is the safest air craft.”The civil aviation also confirmed that it is safe to operate single engine aircrafts for commercial purpose.
www.bhutanvisitors.com

Thimphu Lhamoi Drubchen begins
Sunday, October 2, 2011: The annual Thimphu Lhamoi Drubchen began today at the Tashichhodzong.The highlight of the day will be the Lham-Tshom-Kunchum. The dance is dedicated to Pelden Lhamo, the protecting deity of Bhutan.The Thimphu Lhamoi Drubchen was instituted between 1705 and 1709 by Je Kinga Gyesthen, the first re-incarnation of Jampel Dorji, the son of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.According to legend, Pelden Lhamo appeared before Je Kinga Gyeltshen while he was meditating and performed the dance.
www.bhutanvisitors.com

Strong earthquake hits Bhutan
Sunday, September 18, 2011: BREAKING NEWS: A strong earthquake hit Bhutan, more than an hour ago. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pacific tsunami warning centre based in the US, the epicentre of the earthquake was in Sikkim, India. It measured 6.8 magnitude on the richter scale. The earthquake was felt as far as Trashigang with www.bhutanvisitors.com

Lunana gets cellular service-Bhutan B-Mobile Service-Bhutan Visitors Guide
Thursday, September 15, 2011: The windswept alpine region of Lunana, home to the semi-nomadic yak herders, will soon be connected by cellular service.Located over 4,000 metres above the sea level, Lunana is the remotest place in Bhutan. It takes hardy travellers nine days to reach Lunana on foot from proper Gasa.Connecting it to the cellular service is a gargantuan task, given its remoteness. All the telecommunication equipment such as transceiver station, solar panels, controllers, and batteries, weighing about 14 tons, has to be transported by chopper, making more than 30 trips.Besides the transportation, the operation cost will also be higher, estimated at US$ 5,000 a month.The entire project will cost more than Nu.20 million but it will connect about 400 lunaps to by the end of this month.
www.bhutanvisitors.com

Coming soon: Bhutan's Drukair and Tashi Air to fly into Singapore
Singaporeans dreaming of visiting the last Shangri-La will now be able to do so more easily come March 2012 :Taking off, Bhutan's tourism is set to boom with more flights operated by national carrier Drukair, and private airline Tashi Airlines.For some heaven is a place on earth, and it comes in the form of Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon.Perched high in Himalayas, the kingdom of Bhutan isn't the easiest place to get to, but that will change soon with the signing of a bilateral air services agreement (ASA) between Bhutan and Singapore next week.
The agreement will allow Bhutan's national airline, Drukair (www.drukair.com.bt) and upcoming private airline, Tashi Air, the rights to fly to Singapore.Drukair plans has plans to fly to Singapore twice a week, and will also have the rights to operate to Singapore through Kolkata, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh by March 2012.In the same report, a representative for Tashi Air said that its international destinations will only be worked out once the airline's domestic obligations are fulfilled. The private airline's aircraft is expected to arrive in the first week of October."It's wonderful news," said Tseng Ee-Cheng, owner of Amala Travel, a travel company who runs personalized bespoke tours to Bhutan. "Previously all my guests would have to spend one night in Bangkok but this will work out to be more convenient and bring the overall costs down."Currently Singaporeans who wish to travel to Bhutan have to fly via Bangkok or Delhi. Drukair is also said to be eyeing services between Bhutan and Hong Kong and China.It currently has ASAs with India, Bangladesh, Burma, The Maldives, Thailand and Nepal.
www.bhutanvisitors.com

2012-Tour Cost and Pricing/Tariff, Tour Package/Rates-www.bhutanvisitors.com
With effect from January 2012, the Daily Tour Tariffs for all Tourists visiting Bhutan has been set by the Royal Government of Bhutan as below, with consideration to inflation that has taken place within the last 7 years, thus increasing all costs, like fuel, hotel charges, wages and salary etc:
1. Daily Tour Tariff wef January 2012 is USD 250 per person per night,on twin sharing basis for the Months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.
2. Daily Tour Tariff of USD 200 per person per night, on twin sharing basis for the Months of January, February, June, July, August and December.
3. Government Surcharges: There will be Government Surcharges of USD 40 per person per night for just 1(ONE) traveler, and USD 30 per person per night for 2 (TWO)travelers and NO Surcharges for 3+ travelers.
The above rates are inclusive of Government Royalty of USD 65 per person per night

His Majesty grants dhar and kabney to the Gups
Tuesday, July 12, 2011:His Majesty the King granted dhar and kabney to 190 Gups at the Tashichhodzong today. They are the first democratically elected Gups. A Press release from the Royal Office of Media says that the award of kabney to Gups by His Majesty is unprecedented and symbolises the importance and apolitical nature of the local government in the new governance era.Speaking to the Gups, His Majesty said in the few years since 2008, we have conducted the general elections, adopted the constitution and formed the houses of parliament, constitutional bodies and the Supreme Court. His Majesty said today we have accomplished yet another milestone in establishing the first local governments under democracy. He said all the founding pillars of democracy in Bhutan have been laid so early in his reign as he fulfills the vision of his father of a vibrant democracy.
His Majesty said as a symbol of the independence and importance of local government, he is awarding them kabneys from the throne. “Local government is not the lowest level of government,” His Majesty said. He said it is the nearest and closest level of government for the people. For rural Bhutanese, local governments are indispensable avenues for participation in democracy and development. In the long run, the success of democracy in Bhutan His Majesty said will be determined by the success of local governments.
His Majesty added that the Gups might think that His Majesty have detailed their duties and responsibilities and the importance of local government but have said few words of felicitation and praise for their success in the elections. He said their work is yet to begin and praise will not solve any of the problems facing the people.His Majesty said he will be the first to commend and praise their achievements, if, after five years he finds that the Gups have served their constituencies well, that they have worked hard and without prejudice and above all without hurting the sentiments of the people.
The Gups led by the Venerable Yangbi lopen of the central monastic body offered tashi moenlam prayers to His Majesty the King. The Gups said they felt privileged to have received such recognition from His Majesty the King. They will now serve for a term of five years. According to the Gyalpoi Zimpoen Dasho Penjore, Gup’s kabney like any other position-tied decorations can only be worn for the duration of the tenure.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Haa Summer Festival Bike Race-2011
Friday, May 27, 2011: A bike race is being organized by the Tourism Council of Bhutan in collaborations with the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators and the Guide Association of Bhutan.The bike race is yet an another component besides the Photo exhibition for the Haa Summer Festival scheduled on the 9th and 10th July 2011.One can participate in the biking(bicycle) race and enjoy the two day festival. The Haa Summer Festival offers a lively and uplifting combination of traditional living culture, nomadic lifestyle, demonstration of Bhutanese cuisines, processing of local Ara (drink), traditional sports, religious performance, dances, songs, artefacts, an exhibition on Nublang (sacred unique cattle of Haa) and natural alpine flowers.
The race is on the first day of the festival and you can witness and be a part in celebrating the Haa Summer Festival.

Theme                         :           Haa Summer Festival Bike Race-2011
Date                            :           9th July 2011
Route                           :           Chunzom-Haa (89 kms)
Organized by Tourism Council of Bhutan, Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators and Guide Association of Bhutan coinciding with the Haa Summer Festival scheduled on 9th and 10th July.
Source: Tourism Council of Bhutan or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Cleanup Campaign 2011-bhutanvisitors
Tuesday, May 4,2011: The Tourism Council of Bhutan Secretariat will be carrying out cleanup campaign on the Jumolhari and Drukpath trek routes in the month of June 2011. The participants will be paid stipend of Nu. 200/- per day and 3 meals during the cleanup campaign. All interested tour guides, trekking cooks & trekking staff may be registered with the Services Division of the Council latest by 31st May 2011.  For further information please contact Mr. Pema Samdup at 323251/52 extension no. 210.
Source: Tourism Council of Bhutan or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Royal wedding announced
Friday, May 20, 2011: The 7th session of the parliament today will be remembered for a long time by the Bhutanese people. It was on this auspicious occasion that His Majesty the King announced that he would be getting married to Jetsun Pema in October this year. Jetsun Pema was born on the 4th of June 1990 to Dhondup Gyaltshen and Sonam Chuki. Her father is the grandson of Tashigang Dzongpon Dopola. Her mother is comes from the family of Bumthang Pangtey. Jetsun has two brothers and two sisters.  She is the second eldest.
She began her schooling at Changangkha Lower Secondary School and the St. Joseph’s Convent in Kalimpong, India, and continued her studies at Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary School, the Lawrence School, and the Regents College in London, UK. Her hobbies include the fine arts, painting, and basketball. In recent times, she accompanied His Majesty on royal tours around the country. Speaking about the would-be-queen, His Majesty said many people will have their own expectations –that “she should be uniquely beautiful, intelligent and graceful.” “What is most important is that at all times, as an individual she must be a good human being, and as queen, she must be unwavering in her commitment to serve the people and the country.”His Majesty said while she is young, she is warm and kind in heart and character. “These qualities together with the wisdom that will come with age and experience will make her a great servant to the nation.”His Majesty said the wedding will be in accordance with age-old tradition and asked the government not to make any plans for a grand celebration saying “the happiness of my beloved father and the blessings of our people will give me the greatest joy and happiness.”
Source: BBC or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Bhutan and Maldives sign Air Services Agreement-Good News for Bhutan Visitors
Monday, May 9, 2011: Bhutan and the Maldives have signed an Air Services Agreement, paving the way for the two high-end tourist destinations to be connected by direct flights or flights transiting through other countries in the region.
The flight details and routes will be worked out between the airlines of the two countries, one a tourist hot spot on the roof of the world and the other an ultimate destination for those interested in sunbathing and deep sea diving.The Maldives Minister for Transport and Communication, Mohamed Adil Saleem, and the Secretary for Information and Communications in Bhutan, Dasho Kinley Dorji, signed the agreement on May 8, 2011. They emphasised the fact that air connectivity was vital for tourism and broader economic development. High-end tourists could find the connection a very attractive possibility with the tourism industry viewing both countries as niche markets.Bhutan, which saw about 40,000 tourists last year, is currently building three new domestic airports. The Maldives, which is constructing its third international airport, has achieved an escalation of tourist numbers to about 800,000 tourists a year and is still expanding.With Bhutan holding the chairmanship of SAARC, the agreement is also a step forward in one of SAARC’s goals, to connect all the capitals of the region.
Source: BBC or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Tsirang hospital runs out vital solution for detecting typhoid
Sunday, May 8, 2011: The district hospital in Tsirang has run out of widal reagent, a solution used to detect typhoid. The hospital treats the highest number of typhoid patients in the country. The deficiency of this vital solution is a cause for concern.Located in Damphu, the hospital recorded 247 cases of typhoid in the last three months. On average, around three people test positive for typhoid daily. But in the last three days, the hospital could not conduct a single test.Dr. Palden Wangchuk, the district medical officer, said “we can make clinical diagnosis but without widal, we will have problem. I am sure we are going to get it very soon).The problem could not have occurred at a worse time. At this time of the year, the number of people suffering from typhoid increases.“Currently typhoid test dominates lab tests. Most of the time, more than 12 people test positive daily.  Sometimes more than 20 people test positive of typhoid,” according to Tashi Sonam, a lab technician. Last year, the hospital detected 459 typhoid cases till august. The figure is the highest in the country. There has not been a single case of death, thanks to timely detection and treatment but typhoid can cause death if left untreated. The symptoms of typhoid are high fever, joint pain, and headache.“If we check the pulse rate, although the person has high fever, he can have low pulse rate. Constipation is common in adults and diarrhea in case of children,” said Dr. Palden Wangchuk, the district medical officer. A research to determine the cause of the typhoid is currently underway. Conducted by Public health laboratory in Thimphu, it will take one year. The research will see if typhoid medications need to be changed or not.
Source: BBC or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Al-Qaeda has confirmed the death of its leader Osama Bin Laden, according to a statement attributed to the group and posted on jihadist internet forums.
Friday, May 6, 2011:The statement said his blood would not be "wasted" and that al-Qaeda would continue attacking the US and allies.Bin Laden's death would be a "curse" for the US and urged an uprising in Pakistan, the statement added.The militant was shot dead on Monday when US commandos stormed his compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.The raid was carried out without the prior knowledge of the Pakistani authorities, increasing tension between the two countries.Several rallies are being held across Pakistan on Friday in protest. The statement published on jihadist web forums said an audiotape would be released of the al-Qaeda leader speaking a week before his death.Osama Bin Laden's blood] will remain, with permission from Allah, the Almighty, a curse that chases the Americans and their agents, and goes after them inside and outside their countries," it warned."Their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears. We call upon our Muslim people in Pakistan, on whose land Sheikh Osama was killed, to rise up and revolt."The statement appeared on jihadist web forums Correspondents say many Pakistanis are angry at what they see as a US infringement of their country's sovereignty. They are also critical of Pakistan's government for allowing the commando operation to happen, although officials deny they were told.Around 1,000 people gathered in central Abbottabad following Friday prayers, AFP news agency reported.They set fire to tyres, blocked a main road and shouted "Down, down USA!" and "terrorist, terrorist, USA terrorist".Anti-American sentiment also appeared to be high at a similar protest in the south-western city of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province.However, a BBC correspondent in Rawalpindi says the anti-US protest there was much smaller than expected with about 50 people turning up.
Source: BBC or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Experience not necessary for contractors to bid for huge projects
Thursday, May 5, 2011: Contractors in the Kingdom will no longer have to wait for years to advance from handling small constructions to mega projects worth millions. All they need is the money and fulfill some criteria. They will also no longer be graded as class A contractors, class B contractors or petty contractors. Petty contractors were on the lowest rung of the structure. They handled only the smallest of construction projects. Class A contractors took care of the biggest projects.Till recently, a class D contractor can apply and advance to a class C contractor and so on only after handling certain number of projects successfully and proving that they have the required experience.Contractors will now be categorised into three classes, large, medium and small. And they need not advance from small to medium and medium to large. They can straight away join into the large category, if they have the required capital.Wangdi Gyaltshen, the Executive Director of the Construction Development Board, said “there weren’t enough class A contractors. Most of the time, the tenders had to be re-floated. Each time the tenders were re-floated, the price went up.”Because there were only a few class A contractors, there were concerns that they could collude and jack up the price they quoted for handling the projects.On the other hand, there were far too many class B contractors who did not get adequate works. The cost of the projects were either too high and went to class A contractors or too low had to be given to class C contractors.Contractors in large category will now handle projects worth Nu.15 million or more. Medium contractors will get to bid for constructions works worth between four million and 15 million. Small contractor will work on projects worth less than four million.Chheku Dukpa, the General Secretary of the Construction Association of Bhutan, welcomed the new system as an “an opportunity for new and young contractors to register in any class they wish to provided they have the resources.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

His Majesty issues Kasho on Local Government Elections
Wednesday, May 4, 2011: During the audience granted to those who had appealed against their disqualification, His Majesty the King said that their appeal and the submissions made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the National Assembly, National Council and the two political parties, was with regard to the failure of the respective political parties to abide by the laws on procedures for de-registration in particular and on the interpretation of the laws on de-registration in general. Thus, the appeal would merit full consideration from the relevant agencies, if the individuals had themselves acted in accordance with the laws.
His Majesty said that the Election Commission of Bhutan was simply abiding by the Constitutional requirement that Local Governments must be apolitical. His Majesty said, “I have always encouraged political participation and the growth of political parties. Having heeded my request to all citizens to participate in the political process in the past, you may now, as prospective candidates for Local Government offices, be surprised that your participation in political parties have hindered your chances to run for office in Local Government. The Constitution requires apolitical Local Governments for very important reasons. Local Government responsibilities are very different from those of political parties or any other institution. Local Governments are the foundation for grassroots democracy. They must have intimate knowledge of the daily lives of the people in their constituencies; work in constant and close interaction with their people and nurture cooperation, consensus and close-knit communities. In a largely rural country Local Governments are even more important not just in carrying out vital duties towards achieving development objectives of their people, but also in bringing about a harmonious society.”His Majesty said, “As individuals, having a preference for a political party is not bad. The majority of people will always hold certain preferences. However, in carrying out one’s duties as part of an apolitical institution, we must keep our political affiliations aside. It is as simple as carrying out one’s official duties without being biased by preference for family and friends at the cost of the larger community.”His Majesty said that he always encouraged institutions to resolve issues on their own, through consultation. He said, “Once the Throne is involved, the Throne will protect the Constitution and the laws in place – it has no other path before it.”His Majesty said that, “the sacred Constitutional duty of the King is to protect and uphold this Constitution in the best interest and for the welfare of the people of Bhutan. As I do so, I shall seek if necessary, the Supreme Court’s opinion, for the Supreme Court is the guardian of this Constitution and the final authority of its interpretation.”
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Film Bardo sweeps away 13 awards
Tuesday, May 3, 2011: The movie Bardo swept away 13 awards including the awards for best make up, story, visual editing and direction in the national film awards yesterday.Chencho Dorji won the best actor award for third consecutive year while Tandin Bidha bagged the award for the best female actor. The best director award went to another Chencho Dorji.Tshoki Tsomo Karchung and Kelden Dorji won the best new comer awards.Namgay Jigs and Minzung Lhamo took away the best playback singer award.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Osama bin Laden dead, killed by US in Pakistan, buried at sea
Monday, May 2, 2011: Washington, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times and the most hunted man in the world, was killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan on Sunday, President Obama announced. In a dramatic late-night appearance in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama declared that "justice has been done" as he disclosed that American military and C.I.A. operatives had finally cornered bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader who had eluded them for nearly a decade. American officials said bin Laden resisted and was shot in the head. He was later buried at sea. The news touched off an extraordinary outpouring of emotion as crowds gathered outside the White House, in Times Square and at the Ground Zero site, waving American flags, cheering, shouting, laughing and chanting, "USA, USA!" In New York City, crowds sang the Star-Spangled Banner. Throughout downtown Washington, drivers honked horns deep into the night."For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al Qaeda's leader and symbol," the president said in a statement televised around the world. "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that Al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad. Bin Laden's demise is a defining moment in the American-led war on terrorism, a symbolic stroke affirming the relentlessness of the pursuit of those who attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. What remains to be seen, however, is whether it galvanizes his followers by turning him into a martyr or serves as a turning of the page in the war in Afghanistan and gives further impetus to Mr. Obama to bring American troops home. How much his death will affect Al Qaeda itself remains unclear. For years, as they failed to find him, American leaders have said he was more symbolically important than operationally significant because he was on the run and hindered in any meaningful leadership role. And yet, he remained the most potent face of terrorism around the world and some of those who downplayed his role in recent years nonetheless celebrated his death. Given Bin Laden's status among radicals, the American government braced for possible retaliation. A senior Pentagon official said late Sunday that military bases in the United States and around the world were ordered to a higher state of readiness. The State Department issued a worldwide travel warning, urging Americans in volatile areas "to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations."

The strike could exacerbate deep tensions with Pakistan, which has periodically bristled at American efforts even as Bin Laden evidently found safe refuge on its territory for nearly a decade. Since taking office, Mr. Obama has ordered significantly more unmanned drone strikes on suspected terrorist targets in Pakistan, stirring public anger and prompting the Pakistani government to protest. When the end came for bin Laden, he was found not in the remote tribal areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border where he has long been presumed to be sheltered, but in a massive compound about an hour's drive north from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. He was hiding in the medium-sized city of Abbottabad, home to a large Pakistani military base and a military academy of the Pakistani army. The house at the end of a narrow dirt road was roughly eight times larger than other homes in the area, but had no telephone or television connections. When American operatives converged on the house on Sunday, bin Laden "resisted the assault force" and was killed in the middle of an intense gun battle, a senior administration official said, but details were still sketchy early Monday morning. The fate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda second-in-command, was unclear Sunday night. The official said that military and intelligence officials first learned last summer that a "high-value target" was being protected in the compound and began working on a plan for going in to get him. Beginning in March, Mr. Obama presided over five national security meetings at the White House to go over plans for the operation and on Friday morning, just before leaving Washington to tour tornado damage in Alabama, gave the final order for Special Forces and C.I.A. operatives to strike. Mr. Obama called it a "targeted operation," and added: "No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."Bin Laden's death came nearly 10 years after Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American passenger jets, crashing three of them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. The fourth hijacked jet, United Flight 93, crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers fought the militants. "This is important news for us, and for the world," said Gordon Felt, president of the group Families of Flight 93. "It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil." The mostly young people who celebrated in the streets of New York and Washington saw it as a historic moment, one that for many of them culminated a worldwide manhunt that started when they were children. Some climbed trees and lampposts directly in front of the White House to cheer and wave flags. Cigars and noisemakers were common. One group started singing, "Osama, Osama, hey, hey, hey, good bye."Maureen Hasson, 22, a recent college graduate working for the Justice Department, came down to Lafayette Square in a fushia party dress and flip-flops. "This is full circle for our generation," she said. "Just look around at the average age here. We were all in middle school when the terrorists struck. We all vividly remember 9/11 and this is the close of that chapter."Sam Sherman, 18, a freshman at George Washington University originally from New York, also rushed down to the White House. "The feeling you can't even imagine, the feeling in the air. "It's crazy," he said. "I have friends with parents dead because of Osama bin Laden's plan, okay? So when I heard this news, I was coming down to celebrate."Mr. Obama said Pakistan had helped develop the intelligence that led to Bin Laden, but an American official said Islamabad was not informed about the strike in advance. "We shared our intelligence on this compound with no other country, including Pakistan," the official said. Mr. Obama recalled his statements in the 2008 presidential campaign when he vowed to order American forces to strike inside Pakistan if necessary even without Islamabad's permission. "That is what we've done," he said. "But it's important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding."Relations with Pakistan had fallen in recent weeks to their lowest point in years. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly criticized the Pakistani military two weeks ago for failing to act against extremists allied to Al Qaeda who shelter in the tribal areas of North Waziristan. Last week, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, head of the Pakistani army, said Pakistan had broken the back of terrorism on its territory, prompting skepticism in Washington.Mr. Obama called President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan to tell him about the strike after it was underway and his advisers called their Pakistani counterparts. "They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations," Mr. Obama said.The city of Abbottabad where Bin Laden was found has had other known Al Qaeda presence in the past. A senior Indonesian militant, Umar Patek, was arrested there earlier this year. Mr. Patek was protected by a Qaeda operative, a postal clerk who worked undercover at the main post office, a signal that Al Qaeda may have had other operations in the area. As the operation's start approached, many American officials posted at the United States consulate in Peshawar, the capital of the North West area of Pakistan, were told suddenly to depart last Friday, leaving behind only a core group of essential staff. The American officials said they had been told to leave because of fears of kidnapping but were not tipped off to the operation. Analysts said Bin Laden's death amounted to a double blow for Al Qaeda, after its sermons of anti-Western violence seemed to be rendered irrelevant by the wave of political upheaval rolling through the Arab world."It comes at a time when Al Qaeda's narrative is already very much in doubt in the Arab world," said Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. "Its narrative was that violence was the way to redeem Arab honor and dignity. But Osama bin Laden and his violence didn't succeed in unseating anybody."Al Qaeda sympathizers reacted with disbelief, anger and in some cases talk of retribution. On a web site considered an outlet for Al Qaeda messages, forum administrators deleted posts by users announcing Bin Laden's death and demanded that members wait until the news was confirmed by Al Qaeda sources, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors radicals. Even so, SITE said, sympathizers on the forum posted messages calling Bin Laden a martyr and suggesting retaliation. "America will reap the same if the news is true and false," said one message. "The lions will remain lions and will continue moving in the footsteps of Usama," said another, using an alternate spelling of Bin Laden's name. In the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy organization, said it welcomed Bin Laden's death. "As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, Bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam," the group said in a statement. "In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide.""This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001," former President George W. Bush, who launched the war against Al Qaeda after Sept. 11 and called for Bin Laden to be caught "dead or alive," said in a statement. "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."Mr. Obama used similar language and warned that the war against terrorists has not ended. "We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al Qaeda's terror, justice has been done."The president was careful to add that, as Mr. Bush did during his presidency, the United States is not at war with Islam. "Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims," Mr. Obama said. "Indeed, Al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity."
Source: BBC or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Indian chopper, still missing-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Sunday, May 1, 2011: A helicopter carrying the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, India which was reported missing since yesterday has not been found so far said the Home Minister Lyonpo Minjur Dorji. He was speaking to the Bhutanese media this afternoon. The Home Minister who is coordinating the search operation said “the entire government machinery has been mobilised and all the dzongdas (governors) of the six eastern districts have been alerted.”The helicopter left Tawang for Itanagar, the state capital, at 9.55 a.m. with five people on board. Because of bad weather, it had to change route and attempt to fly over Bhutan. The search has been narrowed down to three areas; Merak and Sakteng area in Trashigang district, Dungte in Trashiyangtse, and Shingkhar Lauri in Samdrupjongkhar. Hundreds of people including district administration officials, armed force personnel, local farmers, park officials, and teachers are combing the area to locate the missing chopper.
“The area is uninhabited and covered by thick forests, the terrain is extremely rough, and the weather conditions unfavourable making the search efforts difficult,” said the Home Minister. With the Prime Minister closely involved, the Home Minister and the Cabinet Secretary Dasho Tashi Phuntshog are coordinating the efforts with Royal Bhutan Army, the Royal Bhutan Police, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Disaster Management, and the Indian Embassy.“His Majesty the King who has been informed regularly on the missing chopper is deeply concerned,” said the Home Minister. A numbers of helicopters are searching the area where the chopper may have been lost. Communication problems are also hampering the search efforts. The Cabinet Secretary said “the search will continue till the chopper is located.” Nobody is sure where it has landed, in Bhutan or in India. “Search is on, on both sides of the border,” he said. Prayers are also being recited in the six eastern districts for the safety of the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister and other people on-board the chopper.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

300 kilograms of tobacco confiscated
Saturday, April 30, 2011: Police in Sarpang confiscated 300 kilograms of Chewing Tobacco and eight cartons of cigarettes worth Nu. 25,000 from a Bhutanese couple on Thursday. The couple is from Tsirang town. They were trying to smuggle the tobacco products through a bypass route at Hilley checkpoint in Sarpang.Police in Sarpang are still looking for three other people involved in the smuggling. The couple has been detained by the Sarpang police. The case will be forwarded to the district court soon.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Former party members barred from local government elections
Friday, April 29, 2011: More than 80 aspiring contestants for the upcoming local government elections have been disqualified because they were former members of political parties. To contest the local government elections, they have to resign from party politics and their names should be in the de-registered list. Some have already resigned as party members but their names are not in the de-registered list issued by the Election Commission.20 of the disqualified contestants gathered at the Office of the Election commission in Thimphu on Wednesday.Sonam Dema, a Gup Contestant from Samar Geog in Haa said “when we de-registered from our political parties in 2008, we submitted our de-registration copies to the Election Commission but now they tell us that this information also has to be published in a print media at least one year before we can compete for the local government elections. They tell us we are not eligible for the elections even though we published it in a print media.”Changlo, a Mangmi Contestant from Chapcha, Chukha said “we went to our party office and questioned them. They said they had done their part and told us to ask the election commission.”The disqualified candidates discussed the matter with officials at the election commission. Dorji Wangchuk, a Gup Contestant from Ura, Bumthang said “we told them that we did not do anything against the rules. We requested them provide us with a solution. The election officials told us that they will look into the matter immediately and let us know. However, if they fail to come up with a solution, then we will either go to the court or other higher authorities.”They argue that there is no section in the election act which says that the de-registered list has to be published in a print media for at least a year.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Four apprehended for substance abuse
Thursday, April 28, 2011: Police have apprehended four men for possession of substances. Police also recovered several tablets of drugs from their homes. Three of the suspects tested positive for drugs, while one was negative. The suspects are aged between 25 to 36 years.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

His Majesty of Bhutan grants audience to the Indian Minister of State for Defence
Tuesday, April 26, 2011: His Majesty the King granted an audience to the Indian Minister of State for Defence Dr. Mangapati Pallam Raju yesterday.He arrived in the Kingdom on Sunday for a two day visit. He is in the Kingdom to attend DANTAK’s golden jubilee celebration. Dr Raju also called on the Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley at the Gyalyong tshokhang yesterday. He will be leaving the Kingdom today.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

21-year-old drowns in the Mochu River in Punakha.
Monday, April 25, 2011: A 21-year-old boy has drowned in the Punatsangchu River yesterday. He was a class XI student of Punakha Higher Secondary School. The incident took place at around 10:30 am.He was swimming in the Mochu River when the accident took place.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Satya Sai Baba, Indian guru, dies at 84
Sunday,April 24,2011: One of India's most revered spiritual leaders, Sri Satya Sai Baba, has died in hospital at the age of 84.Doctors say the guru, who is thought to have millions of followers around the world, died following a cardiac arrest. He had been admitted to hospital in his hometown of Puttaparthi last month, suffering from respiratory problems and kidney failure.He enjoyed support from all areas of Indian society - including Bollywood filmstars and senior politicians.His high-profile followers include former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.Many devotees considered him a living god, and credited him with mystical powers including the ability to conjure objects out of the air. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described his death as an "irreparable loss"."He was a spiritual leader who inspired millions to lead a moral and meaningful life even as they followed the religion of their choice," said Mr Singh.
Reincarnation claim
His organisation has financed health and education projects, among them hospitals and clinics that claim to cure illnesses beyond the capabilities of mainstream medicine.Devotees grieved in Puttaparthi at news of the guru's death But his career was dogged by controversy. He had been accused of faking some of the so-called miracles attributed to him.And some former followers accused him and other members of his ashram of sexual abuse.He denied the allegations and was never charged with any offence.The hospital said his body would be available for public viewing on Monday and Tuesday before a funeral ceremony is held."We appeal to all not to rush to the hospital, but to remain calm and have Darshan in an orderly manner," the hospital said in a statement.In recent weeks, the hospital has been mobbed by groups of devotees praying for the guru's wellbeing.Satya Sai Baba's hometown has been transformed into a vast complex of hotels, resorts, university buildings, and an enormous ashram thronging with devotees.He rose to prominence as a youngster after announcing to his family that he was the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, a 19th Century Indian holy man who had been equally venerated by Hindus and Muslims.By 1950 he had built his first ashram, and in recent decades managed to build up a global following.
Source:www.bbs.com or www.bhutanvisitors.com

Saturday,22nd April 2011: The Royal Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton on Friday 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey
The wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton will be available to watch on the Royal Channel Live Stream, accompanied by a live multi-media blog put together by St. James's Palace.
http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org  or www.bhutanvisitors.com

Potato takes over tourism in Gasa
Friday, April 22, 2011:Until a few years ago, the people of Goenkhatoe and Goenkhamey Geogs in Gasa depended on tourists and livestock for their livelihood. Today, potato is their main source of income. Due to the harsh climatic conditions and geographical location nothing grew here. The people depended on tourists and government officials coming on tours for their livelihood, transporting goods and hiring out their horses. They also cultivated paddy, buckwheat and wheat for home consumption. They didn’t grow anything for commercial purpose. Now they do. Farmers in these two geogs grow vast quantities of potatoes. Over the last four years, potato has taken over tourism and livestock as the main source of cash income. There are close to 180 households in the two geogs.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Mad rush for voter photo identity cards
Thursday, April 21, 2011: Hundreds of people rushed to the Royal Academy of Performing Arts hall and the Motithang Higher Secondary School to collect their voter photo identity cards over the last two days. The cards are required to vote in the local government elections. Yesterday was the last day for collecting the cards.
Pushing and shouting, the crowd which was growing by the hour, waited. Many left disappointed without collecting their cards. Chogyal Wangpo, a civil servant, said “they (the election commission) could have given us more time. Because of the limited time, it is very difficult to get the cards.”“There were only two days to collect the cards. If we were given a few more days, the public wouldn’t have to go through this harassment,” said another frustrated person. Some only managed to get inside the hall after several hours only to be told that their cards have not been printed.“They asked us to collect our cards from the head office in Olakha,” said one man who managed to get inside the hall to collect his card.There were also other problems. Once they got inside the hall, the cards had to be identified and selected by the people themselves. There were hundreds and hundreds of cards and it wasn’t an easy job.While the people had a difficult time, it was not easy for the election officials either.Sonam Tobgyal, the deputy chief registration officer, said “people opt to come only on the last day. That’s why we decided to distribute the cards in two days.”The mad rush is a positive sign. It means that many want to participate in the first local government elections. Will they actually travel to their villages to cast their votes? It remains to be seen.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Tshogpa’s posts draw lukewarm response
Wednesday, April 20, 2011: The local government elections are drawing closer. The preparations are almost complete. Aspiring candidates are preparing themselves, talking to well wishers and supporters and compiling the documents. There seems to be but one problem. There aren’t enough candidates for the post of Tshogpas.The local government elections will elect a Gup (the village head), a Mangmi (a deputy), and a Tshogpa or a representative from each chiwog. Togther they will form the Geog administration and the Geog Yargay Tshogchung or the Geog Development Committee.While there seems to be no dearth of candidates for the post of Gup and Mangmi, there aren’t enough candidates for the Tshogpa. Some Chiwogs have not been able to field a single candidate for the post of Tshogpa.In Lokchina Geog in Chhukha, for instance, there is no candidate for the post of Tshogpa in three Chiwogs. The geog has five chiwogs. Ideally there should be five Tshogpas representing the five chiwogs in the Geog Yargay Tshogchung. There are only two.
The situation is worse in Bjabcho Geog. It has also five Chiwogs. Only one chiwog, Tsimakha, has a Tshogpa candidate. The remaining four Chiwogs still do not have Tshogpa candidates.The lukewarm response has been attributed to the low salary of the Tshogpas. The Tshogpas are paid only Nu. 2,000 a month.
Tshogpas play an important role in local development. They are respected by the villagers but it appears, respect and prestige alone will not be enough to attract aspiring candidates. There seems to be only one answer. Increase their salary.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Windstorm injures girl, damages roofs in Pemagatshel.
Friday, April 15, 2011: A four-year-old girl has been injured after she got hit by a CGI sheet blown away in a windstorm. Doctors described her condition as stable.The storm has also damaged the roofs of over 60 houses in six geogs. It also blew away the Serto or the golden pinnacle of the Pemagatshel Dratsang.
The Dzongkhag’s Disaster Management Division has supplied tarpaulin sheets for the damaged houses.There are also reports of similar damages in other parts of the country.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Bjobs ponder lifestyle change
Thursday, April 14, 2011:Not much has changed for the semi-nomadic Bjobs. They have lived pretty much the same way they have lived for generations, wondering with their yaks from place to place looking for pasture.The livestock department of the agriculture ministry has now come up with a project that may change all that.The pilot project will be first implemented in Bje, Katsho and Eusu Geogs in Haa. Under the project, the Bjobs in these areas will be provided with solar power and bio-stoves. They will be brought together to form cooperatives. The diary products will be collected at a collection centre and sold in hotels and even exported enhancing their income and improving their lifestyle.The project will also help prevent land degradation and conserve the biodiversity through sustainable rangeland management practices.The yak herders will be provided access to enriched feed blocks from paddy straws.The project aims to produce more than 200 kilograms of cheese and 50 kilograms of butter every day.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Signboards, mistakes galore
Tuesday, April 12, 2011:The signboards over the numerous business establishments in the capital are causing a concern. They are riddled with spelling mistakes and Dzongkha proficient residents are concerned that it may promote wrong Dzongkha among students.Tsheten Wangchuk, a non-formal Dzongkha instructor believes that “if shopkeepers continue to display signboards with wrong spellings, the youth may pick it up. They may not know that the spellings are wrong.”The shopkeepers had their signboards made either in workshops or across the border in India. Penjor, a shopkeeper, said “I made this signboard around 12 years ago. There wasn’t anyone who could make signboards so I had it made in Jaigaon. Many people have told me about the spelling mistakes and I’m thinking of changing the board.”The Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC), is aware of it but they cannot ask the shopkeepers to change them. Making new signboards costs a lot of money.Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen, the secretary of DDC, said “we have been talking to the shopkeepers about the matter. These huge signboards are expensive. So it might take some time for them to change them.”Even if they do, it will only serve as a temporary solution. The long term solution is to make sure that the people know the right Dzongkha spellings. For this, opportunities to learn and use the Dzongkha language have to be increased.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Korphu looking at brighter times
Monday, April 11, 2011: The people of Korphu Geog in Trongsa are looking forward to brighter times, literally. The geog has no electricity. They cook, eat their dinner, and do other household chores under the flickering light of kerosene lamps. The students study and complete their homework in the same manner. By 7pm they are all in bed and fast asleep.Pembala, a villager, is also worried about the elderly family members falling down the steep ladders apart from not being able to finish his household chores before night closes in.Those are now nearing an end. Electricity is coming to their village.Phurba Wangdi, another villager, believes that electricity will change their lives. “With the arrival of electricity, the adults can listen to the radio or watch television. They will be better informed. The children can complete their homework and devote more time to their studies,” he said.Gyem Dorj is hopeful that “electricity supply will help them maintain health and hygiene. We will not have to use firewood. There will be no smoke. The walls will not be covered in soot.”From a vantage point, the villagers can already see people installing the electricity poles and the lines. They are coming closer and closer to their villages. And they know it for a fact that, soon, very soon, they will not have to fumble in the darkness as they have done for years and as their forefathers have done for generations.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Local Government elections on May 24
Wednesday, April 6, 2011: The much awaited Local Government election will take place on May 24. It was announced by the Chief Election Commissioner today at a press conference. The polling hours will begin from 9 am and stop at 5 pm. The results will be counted on the same day and declared officially the following day on May 25.The elected leaders will assume their post from July 1 this year.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Age no bar for Bhutan National Game of Archery
Tuesday, April 5, 2011: Nothing can come in between a man and his passion. Not even age. This is what a group of senior citizens who are taking part in the ongoing Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Archery tournament has to convey. Driven by their passion, they are taking part in the tournament to satiate their love for the game.One of them is 67-year-old Phub Tshering. His age notwithstanding, he can match the younger archers Karey for Karey. His enthusiasm on the archery range is clear, actively participating in the tournament, cheering for his teammates with youthful vigour. It is no surprise. For Phub Tshering, the archery tournament and his presence there is a reminder of his heydays when he was a dashing young village lad, loved and admired for his skills as for his good looks. Phub Tshering is not the only man of his age running around the archery range jauntily, their bows in hand, dancing to every karey, exchanging bawdy jokes with the younger archers.For their enthusiasm and love of the game, the tournament is not only proving to be an entertaining and memorable affair, it is serving as a bridge between two generations of archers, their relationship cemented by camaraderie and friendship, their admiration for each other growing with every karey.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Sonam Tshering appeals to High Court
Monday, April 4, 2011: Sonam Tshering, the first man to be caught and convicted for smuggling tobacco products under the controversial tobacco act, has appealed to the High Court. The first hearing will be held on Thursday.Sonam Tshering was sentenced to three years in prison for smuggling tobacco products by the Thimphu district court on March 3. He was found in possession of chewing tobacco worth Nu.120 at Chunzom checkpoint in January.According to him, he bought the chewing tobacco from a shop in the border town of Jaigaon for his own personal consumption.As per the Tobacco Control Act, a person found smuggling tobacco or tobacco products shall be punishable with a minimum of three years and maximum of five years and below.Consumers may bring an approved quantity of tobacco products for personal consumption but only after paying the customs duties and taxes.Sonam Tshering who studied only up to class IV and was a monk at the Semtokha Shedra said he did not know about the act.Though he revealed the source, he was sentenced to prison for three years for smuggling because the source was in India.According to the Thimphu district court, the purpose of the act is to control smuggling of tobacco products in the country. The source should be apprehended. For that the source has to be within the country.Sonam Tshering will be represented by a lawyer in the High Court. He did not have the assistance of a lawyer in the district court.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz

India win World Cup 2011: Big B hits Mumbai streets with tricolour to celebrate India's win
3rd April 2011: Amitabh Bachchan believes that if he watches a cricket match, India will lose. But he not only sat in front of the TV to see the India-Sri Lanka World Cup final here Saturday, also hit the road in open car to celebrate with others when the home team won.
Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/  or www.bhutanvisitors.com

Two men caught with Black Panther bones and skin
Friday, April 1, 2011: Police have apprehended two men for smuggling Black Panther bones and skin. They are from Tsamang in Monggar.The two men were arrested last night in Thimphu while they were trying to deliver the smuggled goods to their counterparts in Thimphu. Black Panther is a highly endangered big cat. They are found in warmer places in Bhutan. The Black Panther bones and the skin have been handed over to the department of forest for further investigation.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Samtse DYT rejects proposal for a new mine
Friday, April 1, 2011: The Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu (district development committee) in Samtse has turned down a proposal to start a new quartzite mine at Chengmari. The members also refused to extend the lease on the Pompha talc mine in Sukretey. Their decision was based on a presentation made by the dzongkhag environment committee.The proposed quartzite mine is at Vedidara in Chengmari geog.According to the committee’s presentation, starting a new mine will provide jobs but it will have a huge negative impact on the environment. It could affect the water source and the grazing land of the nearby villages fall.It will also put at risk the Sibukhola stream which is near the proposed site. The stream is the main source for irrigation water.The committee said allowing the old Pompha talc mine at Sukretey to operate may trigger landslides.Every year, the monsoon washes away the paddy fields in that area. Restarting it, they said might aggravate the problem. A private school is also coming up near the proposed mining site.The meeting also decided that indiscriminate mining will not be allowed in the district.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Monk sentenced for involuntary manslaughter
Thursday, March 31, 2011: The Thimphu district court has sentenced a 17-year-old monk to 18 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter. He would have received three years but his sentence was reduced because he is a minor.The district court also sentenced five other monks to one year eight months in prison and two other men, a former monk and a student to ten months in prison. They were all involved in a fight in a Drayang in Thimphu in September last year.Following the fight, they caught up with the victim near Dechenphodrang. In the fight which ensued, the victim and two of the attackers toppled down a steep slope. The group rescued their friends and left.The victim who was seriously injured was discovered only 17 hours later. He died later in the intensive care unit of the national referral hospital.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Weaving a new way of life
Wednesday, March 30, 2011: Weavers from Kheng Gongdu and Silambi Geogs in Monggar are learning how to use Mechi loom. The Mechis are a tribal people in Assam, India. Like our weavers from Kheng Gongdu and Silambi, they are known for the nimbleness of their fingers and the dexterity in weaving. The textiledesigns are also similar. There is only one difference. Their looms are much larger and reportedly easier to handle.Weavers from Kheng Gongdu and Silambi use the traditional back-strap looms which is also used by weavers all over Bhutan.Forty five-year-old Sangay Dema from Silambi is one of the 20 weavers who are attending the month long training. She said “it is easier and faster than our back strap loom. We don’t get back ache.” She now plans to use the Mechi loom and also teach other weavers in her village.Twenty one-year-old Leki Chozom is from Khen Gondu. She is learning how to weave for the first time. “I learnt tailoring first and then weaving. One month is not enough for me to learn everything. I am lagging behind my friends. We started together.”The training is being conducted by Monhini Sageer-ri. She is happy with the progress though the training has to be conducted in sign language.“They can’t speak Hindi or Nepali and I don’t speak their language so we communicate through sign language.”The experienced weavers are learning faster than the new ones. She also believes that one month may not be enough for new learners.“Maybe in two months, they can learn everything there is to learn. The older weavers pick up faster than the younger ones”Organised by the weaving center at Turlling in Monggar, rural women attend the training in the morning and NFE learners in the evening.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

For want of a bridge
Tuesday, March 29, 2011: The Monsoon is fast approaching and farmers in Tsirang Toe, Sergithang and Phuentenchhu Geogs under Tsirang district are worried. The bridge over the Changchey River has been damaged by the Monsoon last year. The bridge connects the three geogs to Damphu, the nearest town and the rest of the country. Without the bridge, they would be left stranded in their villages. And so far there has been no sight of the bridge.The river is shallow at the moment. Vehicles can cross the river in some places. The farmers can still come to Damphu, sell their farm produce, do their shopping and go back home. But soon, it will swell fed by the Monsoon rains.Karma Wangdi Sherpa, a driver, said “I don’t know how we can cross the river without the bridge. Even now, though the river is shallow, it is difficult to cross.”Lok Nath Adhakari, a farmer from Phuentenchhu geog, said “without the bridge, I don’t know how we can commute. Even the road is bad. It is difficult to travel if there is a slight rain.”Karma, a farmer from Tsirang Toe, said “we have to buy everything from the Damphu market. Reconstructing the bridge is the only answer.”The Dzongkhag administration says they are planning to relocate the bridge. Officials said the current location is not stable and they have proposed a new site for the bridge. There are also plans to realign the farm road by constructing a 2.5 kilometer road through Shamjong geog. A new bridge for Shamjong geog is also in the pipeline.The Dzongkhag administration says the construction work on the bridge will start soon but it is not definite when it will start.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Third Dzongkha newspaper launched
Monday, March 28, 2011: Dzongkha readers now have three newspapers to choose from. The third newspaper was launched by the Secretary of the Dzongkha Development Commission, Dasho Sherab Gyeltshen on Sunday.The Druk Gyalyong Sharshok, a weekly, will be available every Sunday.An editor from the newspaper said the paper will help increase readership and help promote the national language.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Vice president of the World Bank, called on the minister in-charge.
Saturday ,March 26, 2011 :Isabel Guerrero, vice president of the World Bank, called on the minister in-charge, Lyonpo Yeshi Zimba, yesterday at the Gyalyong Tshogkhang in Thimphu.Lyonpo Yeshi Zimba thanked the Word Bank for its long association with Bhutan and said that Bhutan has grown in terms of infrastructure development because of assistance from the World Bank.Guerrero said they are happy to hear that the World Bank has been a reliable partner for Bhutan and that Bhutan has made the best utilization of the Word Bank aid among the South Asian countries. This, she said, is because of the good governance system in place in Bhutan.
Source: Bhutan observer or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Men sentenced for man slaughter
Friday, March 25, 2011: The Mongar district court has sentenced five men to one to three years in prison for involuntary man slaughter. In January this, they killed a 22-year-old man in a gang fight in Mongar town. The main culprit, a driver, received three years for stabbing the deceased. He will also have to serve an additional three months for being under the influence of drugs when the incident occurred. The court has also directed him to pay Nu.150, 000 as compensation to the family of the deceased. His main accomplice has been sentenced to one year and five months in prison. The remaining three received one year and three month prison terms. According to the Mongar district court, most of the people involved in the fight were under the influence of drugs.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

His Majesty the king of Bhutan arrives in Bangladesh
Thursday, March 24, 2011: His Majesty the King has arrived in Bangladesh on a four day state visit. His Majesty is visiting Bangladesh as the Guest of Honour at the 40th Anniversary of Independence and the National Day of Bangladesh.
His Majesty was received by President Zillur Rahman at the Shahjalal International Airport and presented a 31 gun salute followed by a guard of honour.His Majesty the King is accompanied by the Works and Human Settlement Minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba and Major General Dhendup Tshering.
Source: BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Thimphu IT Park on track
Wednesday, March 23, 2011: The construction of the Information Technology Park, the Thimphu Tech Park, is on track. According to officials working for the project, about 50 percent of the construction works have been completed. The IT Park is expected to be operational by September this year.Yesterday, a delegation from the World Bank led by the vice president for South Asia, Isabel Guerrero, visited the site to review the progress.The park is being developed on five acres of land in Wangchutaba, a few kilometers south of the capital Thimphu.Manju Haththotuwa, the advisor, said “it will generate jobs, help bring in foreign direct investments, and make Bhutan an IT based society.”It is expected to create 700 direct and 2,800 indirect jobs in the next five years.It is being developed by Thimphu Techpark private limited, a joint venture of Druk Holding and Investment, and Assetz, a property development firm which is based in India and Singapore at a cost of over 10 million US dollars.
Source:BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Japanese ambassador to Bhutan presents credentials-bhutanvisitors
Monday, March 21, 2011: The Japanese Ambassador to Bhutan presented his credentials to His Majesty the King at the Tashichhodzong this morning.Ambassador Akitaka Saiki was serving as the Director General for Asia and Oceania in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he was appointed as ambassador to Bhutan.Later, His Majesty the King hosted a lunch for Ambassador Akitaka Saiki and his delegation and Japanese working in the capital.His Majesty the King expressed his condolence for the recent tragic earthquake in Japan and the resultant tsunami in which thousands of people perished. Thousands are still missing and a countless number have been rendered homeless.The Japanese ambassador conveyed his sincere thanks to His Majesty the King, the royal government, and the people of Bhutan for their support, solidarity, and good wishes. He said the Japanese people are deeply touched by the concern and the affection of the Bhutanese people, from His Majesty to the King to the cabinet ministers and common people.“I would like to convey my sincere thanks to Bhutan for the tremendous help and support. I would like to thank for their condolence, the sympathy and the kind messages from the Bhutanese people. The messages are reaching the hearts of the Japanese people and the government,” he said.He said despite the tragedy, the Japanese government’s commitment towards Bhutan will remain unchanged. He said their assistance in various areas will continue. “The assistance will continue but because of the disaster some delay has to be accepted. A commitment is a commitment,” he said.
Source:BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Tshering Penjor is the winner for second season of Bhutan Star for 2010-bhutanvisitors
20th March 2011: Tshering Penjor has been declared as the second season of Bhutan Star for 2010, with public votes dominating the judgment by judges in the selection procedures. He topped the five contestants in final round.Tshering said after victory that her interest is to be a playback singer. He received an Alto car sponsored by Ugyen Tshechup of Zimdra Automobiles.
Bhutan Star, one of the most popular singing competitions in the country was conceptualised by Jigdrel Entertainment in 2008. The reality show is created with the objective of :
•    Providing a platform for aspiring singers across the country
•    Providing an opportunity for youth to explore  career opportunities in the Bhutanese musical industry
•    Encourage youth to learn and perform  traditional forms of music
•    Creating a competition where even audience can judge the singers and support their choice through Mobile voting services.
The second season of Bhutan Star promises entertainment, excitement and a whole lot of fun for the 27 contestant discovered from across the country as well as for the Bhutanese audience. Join them in their quest for the “Bhutan Star” title on BBS TV every Saturday and Sunday LIVE from 12 noon till 3 pm and on BBS Radio every alternate Wednesday at 5 pm.Organiser: Jigdrel Entertainment.Show Director & Broadcast Partner: Bhutan Broadcasting Service Radio & Television.Mobile Partners: Tashi Cell & B-Mobile
www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Japan vows to resume aerial, ground efforts to avert nuclear crisis
Friday, March 18, 2011: Tokyo (CNN) - Japanese authorities vowed Friday to continue their aerial and ground-level dousing of water on a troubled nuclear reactor, with its owner saying that earlier attempt have been "somewhat effective" in addressing radiation concerns. Still, the Fukushima Daiichi complex of six nuclear reactors remained a danger. Radiation levels peaked Friday at 20 millisieverts per hour near in an annex building where workers were trying to reestablish electrical power, "the highest registered (at that building) so far," an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Company told reporters.Radiation levels Thursday morning at the plant were nearly 3.8 millisieverts per hour -- more than a typical resident of a developed country receives in a year. But Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said 17 of 18 workers checked Thursday morning tested normal, and the one who received a higher dose of radiation required no medical treatment.
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/17/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html?hpt=T2

His Majesty graces Paro Tshechu or Festival
Thursday, March 17, 2011: His Majesty the King today joined thousands of people from Paro and the neighbouring districts and camera totting tourists at the Paro Tshechu.The Paro Tshechu, an annual event, is one of the most popular festivals in the country and attracts thousands of people every year. It also draws thousands of tourists from all over the world who time their visit to coincide with the tshechu.Today’s highlights were the Wochupai Zhey, Durdag, Tungam, Pholay Molay and Shaw Shachi mask dances.His Majesty also visited the Goenkhang of Paro Rinpung Dzong and offered prayers and met with the geog leaders of the dzongkhag.  The tshechu will end on Saturday with the unfurling of Guru Thongdrol.
Source:BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Remote community schools in Bhutan downgraded-bhutanvisitors
Wednesday, March 16, 2011: In urban areas like Thimphu, one of the biggest problems in schools is overcrowding. Every year, anxious parents struggle to find school admission for their children. The classrooms are packed to the limit. The scenario is the exact opposite in remote villages. There, community primary schools are getting downsized because there aren’t enough students.A few schools in Trashigang and Trongsa have already been downgraded. Some of the community primary schools have been made into extended classrooms. And the Education Ministry will be downsizing more schools.“We have to be mindful of the availability of the resources and the need to support our children to the level which they deserve,” said the Education Minister Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel.The resources from the downsized schools will be sent to other schools with higher enrollment.If the enrollment increases, the schools will be upgraded.The Education Minister said schools in highlands will not be downgraded in spite of the low enrollment. These places, he said, need to retain their school so they can ensure the continuity and sustainability of their community.
Source:BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

ALL BHUTANESE TOUR OPERATORSTuesday, March 15, 2011: This is to inform all that due to the recent massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Druk Air has agreed that re-booking and no show charges will be waived for the affected passengers. This means, it does not only apply to Japanese passengers but also to all who can produce documents/ tickets to prove they had connecting flights through Japan. You are requested to maintain list of passengers and copy of documents for affected passengers.Druk Air would like to request all to kindly contact Druk Air office to cancel tickets of the affected passengers, in other for them to make it available for others.ABTO has further requested for possible refund of the cancelled passengers or possibility of name change, Druk Air will revert back with our request as well as timeline for such concessions.ABTO also also requested TCB for all facilitation for affected passengers.

Source:ABTO or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Ban on import of vehicles lifted
Monday, March 14, 2011: The temporary ban on the import of private light vehicles has been lifted. The ban was imposed pending the Supreme Court’s verdict on the first Constitutional case concerning the government’s tax revision on the import of vehicles.In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s verdict describing the tax revision as unconstitutional and saying that the government has not followed proper procedure.The notification lifting the ban was issued today.
Source:BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

His Majesty of Bhutan sends condolence for Japan
Sunday, March 13, 2011: His Majesty the King offered his condolence to the Government and the people of Japan following the disastrous earthquake.The 8.9 magnitude quake day before yesterday killed hundreds, injured many others and left hundreds of thousands homeless.Inside the Kuenray of the Tashichhodzong, His Majesty the King offered prayers and a thousand butter lamps.The JICA Resident Representative and 60 volunteers were also present. Monks of the Zhung Dratshang also performed prayers.
Source:BBS or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

MakeMyTrip partners with Bhutan Government-The Hindu Business Line
Friday, March 11, 2011: Travel service provider MakeMyTrip has announced partnership with the Government of Bhutan to roll out holiday packages for Indians looking to explore the neighbouring country this summer. The company, which will operate chartered flights from Delhi and Mumbai in May and April, is offering week-long holiday packages for Rs 33,000 per person. “We expect at least 2,500 people to visit Bhutan through MakeMytrip during the two months,” the MakeMyTrip Chief Marketing Officer, Mr Mohit Gupta, told reporters here today. Mr Gupta said in the past, holiday packages to destinations such as Ladakh, Maldives and Andamans have been a hit among travellers, which has encouraged the company to expand its operations to Bhutan. As a part of the tie-up, the firm has signed MoUs with Drukair Airlines, the official air carrier of Bhutan and six hotels in Bhutan. In 2010, 40,873 high-end tourists visited Bhutan from across the globe, out of which 12,000 were from India and Bangladesh. “This year we are looking to double the number of tourists from India,” the Tourism Council of Bhutan Marketing and Promotion Division Joint Director, Ms Chimmy Pem, said. She said Indians travelling to the country require neither a visa nor do they have to pay the $200 per day fee charged from travellers from other countries. Commenting on the benefits to consumers, Mr Gupta said: “The packages that we have designed will offer a 40-50 per cent lower pricing to travellers as compared to what it costs them otherwise.” For the financial year ended March, 2010, MakeMyTrip had registered sales of Rs 2,200 crore. The company has presence in 30 locations within India.
Source:http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/economy/article1528807.ece or www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

New place, old problem-Bhutan Travel Tour Package
Thursday, March 10, 2011: Workshop owners in Olakha are complaining that the area is congested. It is cramped. There is no room for expansion, boxed in as it is between the Olarongchu stream and the road leading to Semtokha.The workshops were moved from Changzamtok to Olarongchu only about two years ago for the same reasons.The workshop owners are also not happy with the road condition. The road inside the workshop area is in bad shape. It is filled with potholes, creating numerous puddles. The drains are blocked with oil and other wastes.Kuenga Norbu, a workshop owner: “we moved here two and half years go. Over the years, the road condition has deteriorated. The drains also need to be cleaned. We don’t know who is responsible.”The workshop buildings are owned by private individuals. They have been rented to the workshop owners.Kuenga Tshering owns one of the buildings. “Since the roads are under the City Corporation, we thought City Corporation will maintain the roads but nothing has been done. If the buildings need to be repaired, it would be the responsibility of the owners,” he said.Gyeltshen Drukpa, the Chief Environmental Officer of the Thimphu City Corporation said people should not rely on the government alone.He said “if I were asked to comment, I’d say that it is also the responsibility of the workshop owners as well as building owners to take care of the infrastructure, the common property.”There are also workshop owners operating from temporary sheds. The city corporation said the sheds are only temporary and new buildings are being constructed.The City Corporation is also preparing to construct an oil suppression plant in Olakha. This plant will filter the waste generated by the workshops.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Penalty too stiff says the Bhutan Opposition Leader
Saturday, March 5, 2011:“The penalty is just too stiff,” said the Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay. He was speaking at a news conference yesterday on the sentence given to a 23-year-old monk for smuggling tobacco.Sonam Tshering was sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday. He is the first man to be sentenced under the controversial tobacco act.The Opposition Leader said they respect the law and abide by it but “the penalties are bit too harsh and therefore we want to appeal to the high court.”“We hope that our lawyer would be able to convince the High Court that this may not be a case of smuggling but just illegal possession. After all, he identified the source.”Sonam Tshering was caught with 48 packets of chewing tobacco worth Nu.120. He revealed the source as a shop in the border town of Jaigaon, India, from where he bought the tobacco products.Though Sonam Tshering revealed the source, he was sentenced to prison for three years for smuggling because the source was in India.According to the court, the purpose of the act is to control smuggling of tobacco products in the country. The source should be apprehended. For that the source has to be within the country.“We hope that the High Court in its wisdom will overturn the sentence and reduce it to a year which is bail-able and then perhaps those of us who are concerned would like to review the act in future session of the parliament,” said the Opposition Leader.He also explained that the act will most likely penalize only those who are ignorant about the act and the poor.“People who have money, people who are knowledgeable can get in tobacco. The law allows it and you pay tax and you have license to consume tobacco.”The court sentence drew a lot of debate including on online forums with many people describing the act as draconian.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Election Commission of Bhutan gears up for local government elections- Bhutan Travel Tour
Friday, March 4, 2011: The Election Commission is organising a series of activities to ensure the success of the local government elections.In Paro, officials from Election Commission briefed the people on the forthcoming elections, the importance of electing the right candidates and how to cast their votes. The officials also briefed the gathering on the dos and don’ts for aspiring candidates, how to register their candidature, campaign and how to spend the campaign money.
Over 60 participants from Gasa, Punakha, Thimphu and Paro attended the two day meeting.Once back in their villages, the participants will have to educate the villagers.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Dzongkha Development Commission of Bhutan comes out with pocket size dictionary-bhutanvisitors
Wednesday March 1, 2011: The Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC) has come out with a pocket size English-Dzongkha dictionary.The idea of publishing the pocket size dictionary was suggested by students of the Yebilaptsa School in Zhemgang. During a discussion on Dzongkha development, the students said the existing dictionary was thick and inconvenient for them to carry around.Published with financial assistance from the Liaison office of Denmark, the dictionary will be distributed to students from classes VIII to XII both in government and private schools.The DDC has printed about 57,000 copies of the dictionary.The commission has also developed three grammar books; an advanced grammar book, an intermediate and a beginner’s grammar book. The books will be published once they get approval from the Curriculum and Professional Support Division. They are expected to go a long way in promoting the national language among students most of whom find Dzongkha difficult to learn.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Lhops learn Dzongkha (national language of Bhutan)-bhutanvisitors
Monday, February 28, 2011:The Lhop community in Dorokha, Samtse, is going through a sea change, thanks to the Non-Formal Education (NFE) Programme.The (NFE) provides village adults who missed out on education, the opportunity to learn to read and write. Only a few years ago, not many Lhops could communicate with anybody outside their community. They spoke a distinct dialect spoken only in their village. Now many village adults can not only speak Dzongkha fluently, they can also read and write.Let’s take 20-year-old Wangda Rinzin for instance. He never went to school. By the time he was big enough to understand the value of education, it was too late. He was too old to enroll in a school. He always dreamt of going to school. He envied those who could read and write. When the education ministry opened a NFE centre not far from his village in 2006, he didn’t need any prodding.In halting Dzongkha, Wangda Rinzin, said “our village did not have a school when I was of school going age. We had to walk for hours. So I stayed at home.”Today, he walks for more than an hour from his village to the NFE centre. He is from Lotokuchu Wangchuck. The classes are held at the Tarayana Desho Paper Making Factory in Lotokuchu Jigme. The classes begin at 7 a.m.
Classes are held early in the morning so that the students can work in the fields during the day. Eighteen adults have completed the Basic Literacy Course where they were taught reading, writing and life skills. Currently they are in Post Literacy Course where they are also taught the importance of immunising their children and how to improve health and hygiene and protect the environment, among others.Pendey Lham, one of the learners, said “I could not go to school because all my brothers and sisters were in school and there was nobody at home to help our parents.”“I can speak Dzongkha now. I can get around easily when I travel out of my village.”Khina Maya has been working as a NFE instructor since 2008.“For the first three months, I had a difficult time communicating with them. They only spoke the Lhop dialect which I could not understand. Now they win prizes in debates and quiz competitions,” she said beaming with pride.
There are 65 NFE centres with more than 1,750 learners in Samtse district.
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Saturday, February 26, 2011:Bhutan Takin Festival Tour Package at Tsharijathang(9-19 June 2011)
Route 1: Gasa to Tsharijathang
Day one: Thimphu to Gasa proper
Day two: Gasa to Koina
Day three: Koina to Laya (At least one day halt at Laya for acclimatization if needed)
Day four: Laya to Lemithang (Base of Gangchentag)
Day five: Lemithang to Tsharijathang
Route 2: Dodeyna to Tsharijathang
Day one: Dodeyna to Dolamkencho
Day two: Dolamkencho to Barshong
Day three: Barshong to Zhoduethang
Day four: Zhoduethang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
Day five: Chazhithang to Chebisa
Day six: Chebisa to Jagoedpassa
Day seven: Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang
Route 3: Drugyel Dzong to Tsharijathang
Day one: Thimphu to Drugyel Dzong (Some tourists may opt to travel directly from Paro)
Day two: Drugyel Dzong to Shana
Day three: Shana to Thangthangka
Day four: Thangthangka to Jangothang (At least one day halt at Jangothang for acclimatization if needed)
Day five: Jangothang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
Day six: Chazhithang to Chebisa
Day seven: Chebisa to Jagoedpassa
Day Eight: Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang
Route 4: Phajoding to Tsharijathang
Day one: Thimphu to Phajoding
Day two: Phajoding to Tsimkota
Day three: Tsimkota to Jhaney
Day four: Jhaney to Jimilangtsho
Day five: Jimilangtsho to Yusawongm
Day six: Yusawongm to Thangkana
Day seven: Thangkana to Walethang
Day Eight: Walethang to Jarodhingthang
Day Nine: Jarodhingthang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
Day Ten: Chazhithang to Chebisa
Day Eleven: Chebisa to Jagoedpassa
Day Twelve: Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang
Include 2 days halt at Tsharijathang for the festival (9-10 June 2011).
Tour operators and tourists can chose the entry and exit routes based on which total number of travel and halt days for the entire trip can be calculated.
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NATAS Travel 25-27 February @ Singapore Expo Halls 4 & 5
Friday, February 25, 2011: We believe holidays are more than simply a getaway. NATAS Travel 2011 brings together travel specialists, tour operators and national tourism organizations to present to you popular and unique travel destinations around the region and the world. Come and discover inspiring holiday moments; be it an adventure, an exotic getaway or a romantic escapade, NATAS Travel 2011 brings the world to you in one convenient place. Opportunities abound with the vast selection of choices and visitors can indulge in their passion for new discoveries in travels, cruises, cultures, adventures, shopping and culinary delights at the fair. We have also many cash and attractive prizes to delight you in our grand draw.To find out more about NATAS Travel 2011, visit us at Singapore Expo, Halls 4 & 5, from 25-27 February between 10am – 9.30pm. Your dream holiday awaits you!
http://www.natastravelfair.travel/front.php

His Majesty the King of Bhutan leaves for Kuwait
Thursday, February 24, 2011:His Majesty the King left for Kuwait today to attend the 50th Anniversary of Kuwait’s Independence on February 26.His Majesty is making the visit on the personal invitation of the Amir Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.Accompanying His Majesty the King are the Education Minister Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel and the Chief Operations Officer of the Royal Bhutan Army Gongloen Wogma Batoo Tshering.His Majesty was seen off from the Paro International Airport by their Royal Highnesses the Princess and Princesses, Paro Dzongkhag officials, Gups, armed force personnel and officials from the Kuwaiti Embassy in Bhutan.
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His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan inducted into the Kyoto Earth Hall of Fame
Wednesday, February 23, 2011: His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo was inducted into the Kyoto Earth Hall of Fame on 13 February 2011. The Earth Hall of Fame is an award that honours individuals who have made outstanding contribution to the protection of the global environment.In a ceremony that was attended by around 600 people, including Their Imperial Highnesses Prince Akishino-miya and Princess Kiko-Sama and prominent citizens and intellectuals of Japan, Her Royal Highness Princess Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck received the award on behalf of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.The other recipients included Dr. Harada, renowned for his social medical research on environmental pollution issues beginning with the Minamata disease and Dr. Eleanor Rostrum, the 2009 Noble laureate in Economics renowned for her work on management of commons by communities in dealing with environmental problems.In her address to the gathering, Her Royal Highness said that His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo was among the earliest world leaders to become conscious of the mounting pressures of development on the bountiful, yet fragile ecosystem and highlighted how His Majesty pursued his dream of preserving Bhutan’s pristine ecology. Her Royal Highness said that as a result, Bhutan is greener today than it was at the beginning of Bhutan’s developmental process some 50 years ago. Her Royal Highness pointed out that Bhutan has a forest cover of 72% with almost 50% of the country declared as protected areas that hosts an array of flora and fauna including some of the rarest and threatened species in the world. Her Royal Highness said the achievements emboldened Bhutan to pledge before the world at the COP 15 that it will forever remain carbon neutral.
In the acceptance message of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo that was read out by Her Royal Highness, His Majesty said that he looked upon the Award as a recognition accorded to his people and country for their efforts to live and progress in harmony with the natural habitat, and that he dedicated it to the people of Bhutan and all those who have been steadfast in their support and commitment to preserve the natural environment in Bhutan and the world.
The Kyoto Earth Hall of Fame award ceremony was followed by the Kyoto International Symposium, at which Her Royal Highness gave the keynote address on Gross National Happiness. Among others, Her Royal Highness stated that as Japan looked at ways to deal with its slow economic growth and an aging population, the GNH paradigm might offer useful ideas for the envisioning of a new and re-invigorated Japan. Over 800 people attended the symposium. The Royal Address was followed by a panel discussion that included Professors from the Chiba and Kyoto University as well as the former Vice President of the World Bank, the Ambassador to Japan and the GNH Secretary represented Bhutan in the panel. The panel discussions and the question and answer sessions among the panelists mainly focused on GNH and its application.

Her Royal Highness visited the Ryukoku University in Kyoto on 14th February and delivered another GNH lecture to a packed auditorium of around 450 people made up mainly of the university faculty members as well as graduate students.While in Tokyo, Her Royal Highness met the members of the Imperial Family including Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino-miya as well as senior officials of the Government and distinguished citizens of Japan. Her Royal Highness also visited the Juntendo University & the NHK studio, and met Bhutanese students studying in Japan.

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Bhutan Vegetables in winter
Tuesday, February 22, 2011: More and more people in Sarpang Dzongkhag are taking up vegetable cultivation during the winter.In the past, the villagers seldom grew vegetables in the winter though they did cultivate vegetables in the summer.Farmers from Hilley, Singey and Shompangkha Geogs under Sarpang Dzongkhag started cultivating vegetable in the winter from last year with support from the agriculture extension office in their geogs. The agriculture extension office provides seeds free to the farmers.One of the farmers who took up vegetable cultivation in the winter is Nainakala Homagai in Darjaythang village under Shompangkha Geog.For her, business has been good. Last year, she allocated about 50 decimals of her land for vegetable cultivation. This year, she has decided to expand, allocating double the land area solely for vegetable cultivation.Her house is also strategically located on the Sarpang-Gelephu highway. This means she does not have to bother taking her garden fresh vegetables to the local market. Civil servants and office goers, many of whom pass by her house, buy her vegetables straight off the garden.She grows a wide variety of vegetables including beans, cauliflowers, chilies, tomatoes, radishes, carrots, spinach, cabbages and potatoes.Now, Nainakala is dreaming big. In the not so distant future, she hopes to supply vegetables to the capital Thimphu and other neighbouring dzongkhags during the winter.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Traffic trouble in Samtse
Monday, February 21, 2011: With the number of vehicles growing rapidly, find parking space even in Samtse is becoming increasingly difficult.The town has only one parking area. Private vehicles, taxis, and public service transport buses all share the same parking area. It remains congested especially during the weekends with hundreds of shoppers thronging the market.Shoppers have to wait for hours to find a parking space or wait for one of the early shoppers to leave. Motorists are sometimes compelled to park their vehicle along the road side.For the taxi drivers, this is a nightmare.There are an estimated 55 taxis. The space allocated for taxis can accommodate only 13.Kinley, a taxi driver, said “sometimes motorists unknowingly park private vehicles in our area aggravating the situation.”Sangay Chophel, another taxi driver, said “the parking area is too small, the problem will only grow.”According to Kencho, “sometimes people park their vehicle behind other vehicles, because of lack of adequate space.”Officials from Road Safety and Transport Authority and traffic police are doing their best monitoring the traffic and ensuring an easy flow but with the vehicle number growing, the only solution, it appears, is to find a spacious parking area.There are more than 900 vehicles in Samtse.
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Tashi Group contributes five million to His Majesty’s Kidu Fund

Saturday, February 19, 2011:Tashi Group- the biggest private business entity in the country celebrated its golden jubilee today. It was a small shop in the border town of Phuentsholing in 1959. Started with a meager capital of Nu. 2,500, Tashi Group is today the biggest business house in the country.As part of its golden jubilee celebrations, Tashi Group today contributed Nu. five million to His Majesty’s Kidu Fund.As the company celebrated its golden jubilee today, it boasts a turnover of Nu. four billion per annum. In the form of tax, the group today contributes Nu. 170 million to the government per annum.Speaking at the event, the Vice Chairman of Tashi Group, Topgyal Dorji recounted the journey of the company. He also spoke about the new projects that are under various stages of progress.With over 37 subsidiary companies, the Tashi group business empire includes trade, industry, telecom, banking, tourism, hotels, chemicals, petroleum, beverages and fruit processing.From 500 employees 25 years ago, the company today has 3,000 employees. At the golden jubilee celebration today, two ex-employees were given special award for their outstanding service. Fifty current employees who have worked with the company for more than 26 years were awarded certificates and medals. For the rest, the company announced a bonus of one month basic salary.
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ANOTHER FIRE IN BUMTHANG (Central Bhutan).
Friday, February 18, 2011:BREAKING NEWS: Another fire broke out in Chamkhar Town, Bumthang at around 1:30 this morning. This time the fire engulfed the houses located along the road towards Trashigang. Around 18 houses were razed to the ground and one man is confirmed dead. Cause of the fire i...s not known. However, eyewitness said the fire started from behind the Drayang.
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Tourism Council of Bhutan will be participating in the GITB (Great Indian Travel Bazaar), Jaipur(India).
Thursday, February 17, 2011: The Tourism Council of Bhutan will be participating in the GITB (Great Indian Travel Bazaar), Jaipur from the 17th - 19th April. This event is being organized by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Department of Tourism, Government of India and Regional Government Tourism Boards), for more visit us at: www.bhutanvisitors.com OR www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

His Majesty grants audience to Director General of Military Operations of India.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011: His Majesty the King granted an audience to the Director General of Military Operations of India Lieutenant General AM Verma at the Tashichhodzong today. Lt. General Verma arrived in the Kingdom on a six day visit on Sunday.He was commissioned into 2 Rajput in 1972. He has held various prestigious instructional command and staff appointments. These include the command of 27 Rajput in operation RAKSHAK in Jammu and Kashmir for which he was awarded the Sena medal for his gallantry service and vishisht seva medal for distinguished service.Lt. General Verma was also in command of a mountain division in operation RHINO. He was also awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva medal on the occasion of the Republic day in 2010.Later, he called on the chief operations officer Major General Batoo Tshering. Lt General Verma has a Master’s degree in management studies from Osmania University in India.
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Zhemgang Dzongkhag should work towards alleviating poverty, says Prime Minister of Bhutan.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011:Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said poverty rate of Zhemgang Dzongkhag should be brought down to 15 percent by the end of the 10th Five Year Plan. Currently, Zhemgang Dzongkhag has the highest poverty rate in the country at 52.9 percent.The Prime Minister said that it is the main objective of the 10th Five Year Plan to alleviate poverty. Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said that Zhemgang dzongkhag has one of the highest poverty rates compared to the other dzongkhags.Road connectivity, the Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said is one of the key measures to alleviate poverty. In Zhemgang Dzongkhag only four, out of eight geogs, are connected with road. In the tenth plan, there are plans to construct around 240 kilometres of road. But so far only about 27 kilometres have been constructed. Loynchhen however promised 100 percent road connectivity by the end of the planned period to the people of Zhemgang.

The dzongkhag will also receive 100 percent electricity coverage by the end of the plan. Currently, only two geogs are electrified. On other achievements Lyonchhoen said the dzongkhag is on track. The dzongkhag has achieved over 97 percent water supply coverage and 97 percent net primary children enrollment. About 70 percent of the dzongkhag has been covered by mobile network.Within the past two years, the dzongkhag has achieved over 74 percent of the planned activities. But the overall 10th Five Year Plan achievement is only 27.7 percent. Prime Minister said local leaders should work hard to achieve all the planned activities within planned period.Zhemgang Dzongkahg has eight geogs with total population of more than 20,000 people.
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Bhutan and Spain establish formal diplomatic relations-Bhutan Travel Tour Package
Monday, February 14, 2011:The notes and the joint communiqué’ on the establishment of diplomatic relations was signed between Lhatu Wangchuk, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bhutan to the United Nations in New York, and Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations in New York.With the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two Ambassadors also expressed the desire to enhance bilateral cooperation and to further deepen the present level of cooperation between the two countries at the UN and at other multilateral forums.
Bhutan’s Ambassador to Belgium will be accredited to Madrid and the Spanish Ambassador in India will be concurrently accredited to Bhutan.Despite the absence of diplomatic relations in the past, Bhutan and Spain have had good informal ties of friendship.With the establishment of diplomatic relations with Spain, Bhutan now has diplomatic relations with 25 countries and the European Union.
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Bhutan Star show to resume-bhutanvisitors
Monday, February 14, 2011: The show will resume from February 19. This was decided following a meeting between the contestants, show organiser and Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) on Sunday.An agreement signed between BBS and the organiser in November 2010 had fixed the end of the show on February 21.However, this information was not shared with the contestants by the organiser resulting in a lot of misunderstandings.BBS Management said that extending the show beyond the agreed date mean that a lot of the planned programmes will be affected.The decision was made for the interest of the general public and the contestants.The Organiser too is satisfied with it.

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Bhutan Star, ‘The Undiscovered Superstar’ remains undiscovered
Sunday, February 13, 2011: Bhutan Star, ‘The Undiscovered Superstar’ has come to an end since contestants refused to take part in the show. This comes at a time when the top 12 constants are to perform.The contestants say they are not happy with the elimination process. ” We remained in the top 12 for two weeks and now they want to eliminate four contestants,” said Tshering Choden, one of the contestants.Tshering Choden said that this is not fair as there will not be chances for them to gain the top 10 titles.Although the contestants requested the organiser to eliminate one person at the time, their request was turned down.Sonam T Dorji, another contestant says they will not remain quiet after having made a lot of sacrifices. “Some of us even quit our jobs and come from far off places,” said Sonam.He said that they really do not have a problem with the cancellation of the show. “But we want the money generated through votes,” added Sonam.Organizer Nidup Dorji on the other hand said that the organisers have the authority to make changes to the show in case of problems. This, Nidup Dorji said was the condition upon which the contestants had signed during the auditions.“What the constants are worried about is that the elimination process is going too fast and months of their hard work is going down the drain,” said Nidup Dorji.He added that the organisers do not have the authority to do anything about it at the moment.The Programme Director from the BBS said the organisers are asking for an extension of six weeks which is not possible as per the contract.  Nyema Zam said that the show was to end on the 21st of this month, as per the contract.“But we are willing to extend it for another two weeks but not beyond that as we have other programmes and in house programmes line up. They need the studio too.  We also have the Local Government elections in line,” said Nyema Zam.She said the decision of the elimination lies with the organiser and not with BBS.
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His Majesty King of Bhutan grants audience to US under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
Saturday, February 12, 2011: His Majesty the King today granted an audience to the US under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero. The audience was granted at the Lingkana palace yesterday. She is leading a five member delegation.Ms. Otero was in India prior to her arrival in Bhutan today. She is the senior most Obama administration official to ever visit Bhutan.Later in the afternoon Ms Otero also called on the Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley at the Gyalyong Tshogkhang. They discussed strengthening of coordination and cooperation on various bilateral issues, explored cooperation to strengthen election organizations and consulted on regional disaster management.She will leave Bhutan today for Nepal.
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Egypt's Mubarak resigns as leader-Tour Bhutan Travel(bhutanvisitors).
12th February, 2011:Hosni Mubarak has stepped down as president of Egypt, after weeks of protest in Cairo and other cities.The news was greeted with a huge outburst of joy and celebration by thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square - the heart of the demonstrations. Mr Mubarak ruled for 30 years, suppressing dissent and protest, and jailing opponents.US President Barack Obama said that Egypt must now move to civilian and democratic rule.This was not the end but the beginning and there were difficult days ahead, the US president added, but he was confident the people could find the answers."The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard," Mr Obama said. "Egypt will never be the same again.""They have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day." For more details and updates visit here at : BBC News

Class X (BCSE) Results Out-Bhutan Travel Tour

11th February, 2011: Bhutan Board of Examination has declared a Class X (BCSE) results out. To view the results CLICK HERE
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Buddha Air to stop operation in Bhutan
Thursday, February 10, 2011: Barely seven months after its operation, Buddha Air, the only international flight operating in Bhutan will stop all its flight in and out of the Kingdom from March 18.The move comes after the airline incurred a huge loss according to the airline’s office in Thimphu. The airline has so far suffered a loss of US$ 1, 23,000 dollars.Buddha Air, a private airline based in Nepal, started operating its flight in and out of the kingdom from August last year. It began with two flights a week and two months later increased it to four. After the Tara Air crash on December 15, which killed 18 Bhutanese pilgrims on board the flight, the airline saw a sharp drop in its passengers. Prior to the crash, the Buddha Air carried 1,200 passengers and operated 60 flights. However, after the crash it dropped to 100 passengers.“I think Tara Air crash is the major cause of Buddha air line losing its passengers,” said the Marketing Manager of Buddha Air, Pradip Katwal.Despite several advertisements with the local media informing the public that the two airlines are different, the Buddha Air failed to attract the Bhutanese passengers. The marketing manager said after the Tara Air crash, Bhutanese have lost confidence in the Buddha Air.
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His Majesty King of Bhutan grants audience to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister
Wednesday, February 9, 2011: His Majesty the King granted an audience to the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh at Tashichhodzong this morning.Before being appointed as the Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipu Moni was Secretary for Women’s Affairs and a Member of the Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Bangladesh Awami League.

Dr. Dipu is a qualified physician and draws upon advanced qualifications in Public Health and Law and is an Advocate of the Bangladesh Supreme Court.
Dr. Dipu Moni is accompanied by the Foreign Secretary to attend the meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers.
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Feasibility Survey for Adha-Rukha Trekking Trail
Wednesday, February 9, 2011: The Nature Recreation and Eco-tourism Division (NRED), Ministry of Agriculture and Forest together with TCB would like to conduct a four days feasibility survey for the development of eco-tourism trail at Adha-Rukha (Wangduephodrang/ Jigme Singye National Park) area.  In this regard, NRED has requested one representative from Bhutan  tour operators to be part of the survey team. They would like to get tour operators’ perspective during the survey.

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His Majesty the King of Bhutan grants audience to the Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011: His Majesty the King granted an audience to the Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna today. His Majesty discussed a wide range of issues with the Indian External Affairs Minister and other senior officials.This morning, His Majesty the King also granted an audience to the Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.The Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao are in the Kingdom to attend the 33rd session of the SAARC Council of Ministers which begins tomorrow.Later in the evening, the Indian Foreign Secretary also called on the Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley.Also today, the government of India donated Nu.150 million to the Kidu Foundation. The cheque was handed over by the Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Pavan K Varma, to the Gyalpoi Zimpon. The Kidu Foundation, under the patronage of His Majesty the King, was launched on the 3rd of this month.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Bhutan Nomads’ Festival Tour at Nagsephel, Bumthang (Wangchuck Centennial Park) 2011
7th Feb 2011: Festival Program
Note: Nagsephel is about 1 hr. drive (22 Kms. – feeder road) from Chamkhar
February 23, 2011 (Day 1)
0830 hrs     Arrival of Guests
0900 hrs    Reception of Chief Guest with Seda/Chipdrel (depending on Chief Guest) the festival ground
0915 hrs    Marchang Ceremony
0930 hrs    Welcome Address by --------
1010 hrs    Key note address by the Chief Guest
1025 hrs    Vote of thank by -----------
1035 hrs    Suja Desi
1100 hrs    Opening of the Nomadic Festival by the Chief Guest and visit to all exhibitions and stalls including Yak Show and Dog (Jobchhi) Show, opening of all traditional games/sports/competition (Soksum/degor/khuru/zigdum/pumdo).
1145 hrs    Yak riding and horse riding program will start simultaneously based on the interest of the participants  Cultural program by Students of Zhabjithang CPS, Nomadic groups, Dzongkhag Dancer, Local Drayangs, Musk dance, community group
1230 hrs    Lunch Break (official)
1300 hrs    Yak Tsham, Cultural program and Mask dances
1330 hrs    Yak bull lassoing and Yak calf weight guessing
1645 hrs    Cultural program will continue by different groups
1800 hrs    Evening cultural program by different groups.
2000 hrs    Close for the Day

February 24, 2011 (Day 2)

0900 hrs    All exhibitions and stalls will continue
0900 hrs    Cultural programs - Musk dance and Yakcham program and stalls to be continued
0900 hrs    Horse riding program will continue whole day based on interest of the participants Traditional Wrestling Archery in traditional bow (opening)
1100 hrs    Pillow fight program will start
1130 hrs    Tea will be served (Cultural program will continue)
1200 hrs    Lunch break
1330 hrs    Weight carrying competition will start
1330 hrs    Cultural program will continue by different groups
1800 hrs    Evening cultural program by different groups.
2000hrs    Close for the Day

February 25, 2011 (Day 3)
0900 hrs    All exhibitions and stalls will continue
0900 hrs    Horse riding will continue 
1000 hrs    Quiz competition on Livestock and on Bio-diversity/protected Areas of Bhutan between Nomadic groups
1030 hrs    Tug of War between guests and nomads
1200 hrs    Lunch break
1300 hrs    Awarding of prizes to the winners of all 3 days’ events
1345 hrs    Vote of thanks by the Chairperson –DT Bumthang Dzongkhag/Gup Chhokor Geog
1400 hrs    Tashi Lebey
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Travel Road Shows in the 4 states of India-bhutanvisitors
7th Feb 2011: The Tourism Council of Bhutan of Bhutan in collaboration with Hotel Taj Tashi is organizing Road Shows in the 4 states of India as follows:
1. Delhi 21, Feb 2011
2. Mumbai 23 Feb 2011
3. Hyderabad 25 Feb 2011
4. Bangalore 27 Feb 2011

Therefore, interested Bhutan Visitors and for direct booking can visit our website at: www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com or www.bhutantour.biz

Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt moves to restart economy.
5 Feb 2011: Live coverage of unrest in Egypt, where thousands have spent the night in central Cairo after another huge rally demanding the resignation and for more details visit at: BBC News

His Majesty spends Losar with needy citizens
Thursday, February 3, 2011:As people across the country celebrated the beginning of the Iron Female Rabbit Year  with friends and family members, His Majesty the King spent the new year with a group of citizens in need. His Majesty also offered prayers and butter lamps at the Puna Dewai Chenpoi Phodrang earlier this morning.His Majesty was escorted to the Puna Dewai Chenpoi Phodrang by the venerable lopens of the Central Monastic Body. At the Machen Lhakhang, His Majesty offered prayers and nyengdhar. His majesty also offered flowers at the Dukhang. His Majesty the King was seen off from Punakha by His Holiness the Je Khenpo and the lopens of the Zhung Dratshang. Enroute, from Punakha to Thimphu, His Majesty met and granted soelra to a nun who has been prostrating in Punakha Dzong for several years.In the capital Thimphu, the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the National Assembly Speaker, the Chairperson of the National Council and Chiefs of Armed forces offered Tashi Khadhar to His Majesty the King.Later in the afternoon, His Majesty met with a group of citizens comprising of the elderly, the destitute, students from remote schools, civil servants and taxi drivers.His Majesty wished them a happy, prosperous Losar and interacted and spoke with them about social and personal matters.Most told BBS that the year ahead will be filled with happiness for having started their year in an auspicious way. A civil servant who has been working for the last 36 years said that this is his first meeting with His Majesty the King and said that this year will mean a year filled with joy and luck.A 74-year-old woman from Paro said that she will not have regrets even if she were to die soon. Likewise students and taxi drivers expressed joy for having got this rare opportunity to spend time with His Majesty the King on Losar.
The group went home with Losar soelras from His Majesty the King.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Losar-Bhutan New Year celebration for 2011-www.bhutanvisitors.com
Losar is the traditional New Year according the Bhutanese Lunar Calendar, which is based on the Tibetan calendar but not always the same. Losar is celebrated all over the country, but most noticeably in the western part of the country. In eastern part of Bhutan, the beginning of the 12th month (Chu-nib Losar) is celebrated more. In villages, the celebration can go on for a week or more, and in larger towns, it is celebrated for 2-3 days. People put on new clothes, paint or clean their houses and celebrate with feasts. Many go to the temple or monasteries and make offering, raise prayer flags and pray for the good year. People get together, play traditional games such as the dha (archery) , khuru (darts) and degoer (flat stone throwing), picnic, sing and dance and often there are cultural shows. During the Losar, if you are in the country, you will more then likely to be invited as the guest to the local home and join in the celebration. The dates listed here are the government holidays when offices remain closed.
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B-Mobile Cellular Network in Shingkhar(upper Kheng)- Bhutan Visitors
Wednesday,February 3,2011:Bhutan Telecom has announced that the B-Mobile network is now available in two upper Kheng Gewogs (blocks of villages) of Zhemgang Dzongkhag. Villages in the Shingkhar Gewog that now have access to B-Mobile include: Changkhar, Shingkhar, Wamling, Wamling Gonpa, Thrisa, Nimshong, Thajong, Zangling and Radi, while villages in the Bardho Gewog with coverage include: Bardho, Sarmi, Khomsar, Phulabi and Langdurbi. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, state-owned parent Bhutan Telecom hopes to invest around BTN2.03 billion (USD43.99 million) in its network between 2010 and 2014 – concentrating on the expansion of its wireless infrastructure.

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ITB Travel Fair Berlin 2011.
Wednesday,February 2,2011: The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) will attend the upcoming ITB in Berlin from March 9-13, 2011. During these days a Happy Hour Media event will take place (date to be confirmed). Following this fair, TCB -with the assistance of the PR Company Eyes2market- will organize two events in a prime location in Paris on March 14 (a 'tour operators breakfast' event and a 'travel press luncheon'). Right after, TCB will attend for the first time ever MITT (Moscow International Travel & Tourism fair) in Moscow from March 16-19.
www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Upcoming Paro Festival Tour
Tuesday,February 1,2011: The Paro Tsechu is scheduled to be held from 15 – 19 March, 2011 is a major attraction for many international visitors. On the final day, it is good to view the giant Thangkha that is displayed from the roof of a four story building. This Thangkha embroidered in silk with the images of eight
manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava is more than 350 years old.
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Bhutan Board of Examination (BBE) has declared results for 2011
Sunday,January 30,2011:Get your Result aslo through sms T-Cell: Type (index number) and send to 4040. eg: 012100100001 send to 4040 B-Mobile: Type (R12) (space) (index number) send to 3333. eg: R12 012100100001 send to 3333 or you cal also visit the official websites at http://www.bt.bt/BBE/

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Motithang takes top three positions in class XII examination results for 2011.
Friday, January 28, 2011:The top three toppers in the class XII examinations are all students of Motithang Higher Secondary School. The results were declared by the Bhutan Board of Examinations this morning.7,510 students from 27 government schools and 13 private higher secondary schools sat for the examinations.
Tshering Dolkar topped the class 12 examination with 87.5 percent. Kesang Yuden came second with 87.25 percent. Kesang is also an Arts student of Motithang Higher Secondary School. In the third place is Tandin Dorji, a class XII science student of Motithang Higher Secondary School. He scored 86.5 percent.
Normally, the toppers are from science. This year, the top two places have been occupied by arts students.Dr Phub Rinchen, the Secretary of Examinations, said “this year is a surprise.”85.6 percent of the students passed the exam.Subject wise, most students fared well in English, Dzongkha, Geography and Science with a pass percentage above 90 percent. The worst was Economics with a pass percentage of 30.21 percent.The results are available on the education ministry’s website, www.education.gov.bt and also at www.druknet.bt. The results can be accessed after 9am tomorrow. Except for those from the Institute of language and Cultural Studies and the Dzongkha Language Institute, students can also access their results through SMS.B-Mobile users should type R12, space, index number and send it to 3333.Tashi Cell users can straight away type the index number and send to 4040.

Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Writers visit Bhutan for inspiration
Thursday, January 27, 2011:A group of writers, poets and publishers from the USA and Poland are in the country for a retreat. They call this journey a writer’s pilgrimage. They will stop and write as they travel.On Tuesday, a group of writers and filmmakers from Alaska and Vietnam met with teachers, students and aspiring local writers. During the meeting, they shared experiences and tips on the art of writing.As part of their journey, seven Bhutanese writers were invited to join them for a cross cultural writer’s retreat. They will meet in Bumthang for three-days and engage in writing to find a new dimension to their writings.

Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Tuesday, January 25, 2011:Bhutan Takin Festival Tour and  Trip Itinerary for 2011 Takin Festival at Tsharijathang (9-10 June 2011).

Route 1:       Gasa to Tsharijathang
Day one:      Thimphu to Gasa proper
Day two:      Gasa to Koina
Day three:     Koina to Laya (At least one day halt at Laya for acclimatization if needed)
Day four:       Laya to Lemithang (Base of Gangchentag)
Day five:        Lemithang to Tsharijathang

Route 2:       Dodeyna to Tsharijathang
Day one:      Dodeyna to Dolamkencho
Day two:      Dolamkencho to Barshong
Day three:     Barshong to Zhoduethang
Day four:      Zhoduethang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
Day five:      Chazhithang to Chebisa
Day six:       Chebisa to Jagoedpassa
Day seven:   Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang

Route 3:      Drugyel Dzong to Tsharijathang
Day one:     Thimphu to Drugyel Dzong (Some tourists may opt to travel directly from Paro)
Day two:     Drugyel Dzong to Shana
Day three:   Shana to Thangthangka
Day four:    Thangthangka to Jangothang (At least one day halt at Jangothang for acclimatization if needed)
Day five:     Jangothang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
Day six:     Chazhithang to Chebisa
Day seven:  Chebisa to Jagoedpassa
Day Eight:   Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang

Route 4:      Phajoding to Tsharijathang
Day one:     Thimphu to Phajoding
Day two:     Phajoding to Tsimkota
Day three:   Tsimkota to Jhaney
Day four:     Jhaney to Jimilangtsho
Day five:     Jimilangtsho to Yusawongm
Day six:       Yusawongm to Thangkana
Day seven:   Thangkana to Walethang
Day Eight:    Walethang to Jarodhingthang
Day Nine:     Jarodhingthang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
Day Ten:     Chazhithang to Chebisa
Day Eleven:  Chebisa to Jagoedpassa
Day Twelve: Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang

**Include 2 days halt at Tsharijathang for the festival (9-10 June 2011).
Tour operators and tourists can chose the entry and exit routes based on which total number of travel and halt days for the entire trip can be calculated.

DETAILS OF THE ROUTES INCLUDING ATTRACTIONS

Route 1: Gasa to Tsharijathang

Thimphu to Gasa proper
No. of hours: Eight hours leisurely drive with rests on the way
Attractions: Visit to Chimilhakang, Punakha Dzong
•    View of many major peaks (Mt. Gangkar Puensum, Mt. Matsangang, and Table Mountain) from Dochula Pass
•    Druk Wangyel chortens (108) and temple at Dochula Pass
•    Visit to Royal Botanical Park, Lamperi
•    Visit to Chimi Lhakang, and Punakha Dzong
•    Drive through the warm broadleaved forest and cool broadleaved forest
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings
•    Khailo Community Forest
•    Yemina Community Forest
•    Visit to the Park Head Office, Damji, Gasa
•    (only for return journey: Gasa tshachhu and medicinal baths)

Gasa to Koina
No. of hours: Eight hours leisurely walk
Passes to cross: Balela (3, 600 m)
Attractions:
•    Visit to Gasa Dzong
•    Walk through the mixed coniferous forest and rhododendrons
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings (Red panda and pheasants)
•    (only for return journey: Gasa tshachhu and medicinal baths)

Koina to Laya
No. of hours: Eight hours leisurely walk
Attractions:   
•    Visit the community of Laya
•    Walk through the mixed coniferous forest & spruce forest
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings
•    View of Mt. Matsangang
•    View of Rocky mountain and cliff

Laya to Lemithang
No. of hours: Six hours leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through the mixed coniferous forest & spruce forest
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings (Musk deer & Himalayan black bear)
•    View of Mt. Gangchentag
Lemithang to Tsharijathang
No. of hours: Eight hours leisurely walk
Pass to cross: Shinjela (5,000 m)
Attractions:
•    Walk through the alpine meadows and alpine flowers
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings (Blue sheep, snow leopard, takin and marmot)
•    View of glacier lake at the base of Mt. Gangchentag
•    Alpine flowers
•    Close up view of Mt. Gangchentag
•    View of yaks and yak herders’ camps
•    Ruined Dzong and mineral licks

Route 2: Dodeyna to Tsharijathang

Dodeyna to Dolamkencho
No. of hours: Seven hours leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through the mixed oak and coniferous forest
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings (Tiger, Leopard, Red panda, Satyr tragopan, Monal pheasant, and Himalayan black bear)
•    Visit to Chari and Tango Monastery
•    View of yaks and yak herders’ camps

Dolamkencho to Barshong
No. of hours: Nine hours leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through the mixed oak and coniferous forest
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings (Red panda, Satyr tragopan, monal pheasant, blood pheasants and Himalayan black bear)
•    Visit to the community of Barshong
•    Ruined Barshong Dzong

Barshong to Zhoduethang
No. of hours: Nine hours leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    View of Mt. Ritsabu
•    Walk through Juniper and fir forest
•    Visit to Zhabdrung Ney
•    Overlapping habitat of Snow leopard and Tiger at Thankana

Zhoduethang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
No. of hours: 10 hours walk
Pass to cross: Yalila (4,942 m)
Attractions:
•    Walk through alpine meadows
•    Occasional sightings of snow leopard and blue sheep
•    Interaction with yak herders
•    View of lake Yalila Kamtsho, lake Geduetsho, and lake Gagommatsho

Chazhithang to Chebisa
No. of hours: 6 hours
Attractions:
•    Visit to Mesiyul village and see medicinal plant plantations
•    Visit to Lingzhi Dzong and Community School
•    Visit to community of Gangyuel
•    Visit to Medicinal plants drying house

Chebisa to Jagoedpassa
No. of hours: 8 hours
Pass to cross: Gugula (4,443 m)
Attractions:
•    Visit to the community Chebisa village
•    Visit to Jagoed Dzong
•    Walk through the alpine meadows and juniper and fir forest
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings (Himalayan Griffon and large herds of blue sheep, occasional sighting of snow leopard)
•    View of Mt. Nyelila, Mt. Jhomolhari, Mt. Tsherimgang, and Mt. Jichudrakey

Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang
No. of hours: 8 hours
Pass to cross: Jarila (4,700 m)
Attractions:
•    Walk through the alpine meadows
•    Bird watching and mammal sightings (Himalayan Griffon and large herds of blue sheep, occasional sighting of snow leopard, Himalayan marmot)
•    Alpine flowers
•    View of Mt. Shinjela, Mt. Gangphu, and Mt. Ganchentag
•    View of yak herder camps
•    View of Tsharijathang mud flat

Route 3: Drugyel Dzong to Tsharijathang
Thimphu to Drugyel Dzong
No. of hours: Three hours leisurely drive with sight seeing
Attractions:
•    Visit to Paro Rinpung Dzong, National Museum, and Drugyel Dzong ruin
•    Visit to Paro Town, Kichhu Lhakang and Tachog Lhakang
•    Camp behind Drugyel Dzong

Drugyel Dzong to Shana
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Visit the Park Range Office at Soe Mitsizam
•    Walk along the unpaved road for an hour
•    Walk along the serene, cultivated valley of Tsentog geog and blue pine forest
•    Camp at Shana camp site (2,745 m)

Shana to Thangthangka
No. of hours: Eight hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through the thick forest of oak, bamboo thickets, and mixed conifer forest. Patches of Betula and Larix along the Patchu River can also be seen.
•    Walk along the serene, cultivated valley of Tsentog geog and blue pine forest
•    Camp at Thangthanka camp site (3,575 m)

Thangthangka to Jangothang
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through fir forest.
•    View of alpine meadows where yaks graze in harmony with blue sheep.
•    View of the full glory of Mt. Jhomolhari, Mt. Jichudrakey, and Mt. Tsherimgang.
•    Visit the communities of Soe Geog, under Thimphu Dzongkhag
•    Camp at Jangothang camp site (4,268 m)

Jangothang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi)
No. of hours:    Eight hours walk
Pass to cross: Nyelila (4,890 m)
Attractions:
•    Walk through alpine meadows, with gentle ascend to Nyelila pass
•    View of the full glory of Mt. Jhomolhari, Mt. Jichudrakey, and Mt. Tsherimgang.
•    Alpine flowers & mammals (Himalayan marmot)
•    Camp at Chazhithang camp site (4,200 m)

Chazhithang to Chebisa (refer to Route no. 2)
Chebisa to Jagoedpassa (refer to Route no. 2)
Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang(refer to Route no. 2)

Route 4: Phajoding to Tsharijathang (Trek of many alpine lakes)

Thimphu to Phajoding
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through blue pine forest
•    Bird’s eye view of Thimphu town
•    Visit to Phajoding monastery
•    Bird watching and mammal sighting
•    Rhododendrons and other flowers

Phajoding to Tsimkota
No. of hours: Seven hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through stunted alpine rhododendrons and alpine meadows
•    View of Thujidrag monastery
•    Bird watching (monal pheasants and blood pheasants)

Tsimkota to Jhaney
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through stunted alpine rhododendrons and alpine meadows
•    View of lake Tsimkotatsho
•    Bird watching (monal pheasants and blood pheasants)

Jhaney to Jimilangtsho
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through stunted alpine rhododendrons and alpine meadows
•    View of lake Jimilantsho, lake Jhaneytsho and lake Labatsho
•    Bird watching (monal pheasants and blood pheasants)

Jimilangtsho to Yutsawongm
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Pass to cross: Yusala
Attractions:
•    Walk through stunted alpine rhododendrons and alpine meadows
•    View of lake Tshotsumthoe and lake Rokhishisatsho
•    Bird watching (monal pheasants, blood pheasants, and Tibetan snow cock)
Yutsawongm to Thangkana
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Pass to cross: Shakimla
Attractions:
•    Walk through juniper forest
•    View of alpine flowers (Meconopsis horridula)

Thangkana to Walethang
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Attractions:
•    Walk through sub alpine forest and alpine meadows
•    View of alpine flowers (Aconitum arocryseum, Rheum nobile & Picorrhiza kurroa)
•    View of lake Gunglayumtsho (turquoise lake)

Walethang to Jarodhingthang
No. of hours: Six hours of leisurely walk
Pass to cross: Leydeila
Attractions:
•    Walk through sub alpine forest and alpine meadows
•    Possibility of seeing Snow leopard, blue sheep, and Himalayan marmot

Jarodhingthang to Chazhithang (Lingzhi) – same as Zhoduethang to Chazhithang on Route no. 2
Chazhithang to Chebisa – (ref. Route no. 2)
Chebisa to Jagoedpassa – (ref. Route no. 2)
Jagoedpassa to Tsharijathang – (ref. Route no. 2)

June 9-10, 2011: Festival at Tsharijathang
Attractions:
•    Witness the largest congregation of takins at Tsharijathang, the summer habitat and breeding habitat.
•    Witness the courtship, mating, and social behavior of the takin
•    Firsthand experiences and witness of the lifestyles, livelihood, and cultures of yak herders in the uplands.
•    Information on conservation significance of Jigme Dorji National Park, and overall information on Bhutan’s conservation policy and overall GNH philosophy of development.
•    Yak and horse riding experiences
•    Hot stone baths
•    Sleeping in yak-hair tents
•    Participate in traditional dances and sports of yak herders
•    Taste and buy traditional herbal medicines, including Chinese caterpillar (Cordyceps)
•    Taste yak herders’ cuisines
•    Smell and buy upland aromatic incense
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Sunday, January 23, 2011:Bhutan Festival Tour Travel Dates and Bhutan Festival Calenders for 2011-2012
FESTIVAL                                         PLACE                            DATES
PUNAKHA DRUBCHHEN                       PUNAKHA                       8th to 12th FEB
PUNAKHA TSHECHU                           PUNAKHA                      13th to 15th FEB
CHHORTEN KORA                              TRASHIYANGTSHE          18th FEB & 4th MAR
GOMPHUKORA                                  TRASHIGANG                  13th   to 15th MARCH/ 11th to 13th  APRIL
PARO TSHECHU                                 PARO                            15th to 19th MARCH
CHHUKHA TSHECHU                           CHHUKHA                       17th to 19th MARCH/ 16th to 18th APRIL
URA TSHECHU                                   BUMTHANG                    13th to 17th MAY
NIMALUNG TSHECHU                          BUMTHANG                    8th  to 10th  JUL
KURJEY TSHECHU                              BUMTHANG                    10th JUL
THIMPHU DRUBCHEN                         THIMPHU                        1st to 5th OCT
WANGDUE TSHECHU                         WANGDUEPHODRANG       4th to 6th OCT
TAMSHING PHALA CHHOEPA              BUMTHANG                      5th to 7th OCT
THIMPHU TSHECHU                          THIMPHU                         6th  to 8th OCT
THANGBI MANI                                 BUMTHANG                     10th  to 12th OCT
JAMBAY LHAKHANG DRUB                  BUMTHANG                     10th  to 14th NOV
PRAKHAR TSHECHU                           BUMTHANG                     11th  to 13th NOV
MONGAR TSHECHU                           MONGAR                         1st  to 4th  DEC
PEMAGATSHEL TSHECHU                   PEMAGATSHEL                1st  to 4th  DEC
TRASHINGANG TSHECHU                   TRSASHIGANG                 2nd  to 5th DEC
NALAKHAR TSHECHU                         BUMTHANG                    10th   to 12th DEC
TRONGSA TSHECHU                          TRONGSA                       2nd  to 4th JAN, 2012
LHUENTSE TSHECHU                         LHUENTSE                      2nd  to 4th JAN, 2012

TENTATIVE FESTIVAL DATES FOR 2012
FESTIVAL                                         PLACE                           DATES
PUNAKHA DRUBCHHEN                       PUNAKHA                      8th to 12th FEB
PUNAKHA TSHECHU                           PUNAKHA                      13th to     15th FEB
CHHORTEN KORA                              TRASHIYANGTSHE          18th FEB & 4th MAR
GOMPHUKORA                                  TRASHIGANG                  13th to 15th MARCH/ 11th to 13th  APRIL
PARO TSHECHU                                 PARO                            15th to 19th MARCH/ 14th to 18th APRIL
CHHUKHA TSHECHU                          CHHUKHA                       17th to 19th MARCH/ 16th to 18th APRIL
URA TSHECHU                                  BUMTHANG                    13th to 17th MAY
NIMALUNG TSHECHU                        BUMTHANG                      8th  to 10th  JUL
KURJEY TSHECHU                            BUMTHANG                     10th JUL
THIMPHU DRUBCHEN                        THIMPHU                        1st to 5th OCT
WANGDUE TSHECHU                        WANGDUEPHODRANG        4th to 6th OCT
TAMSHING PHALA CHHOEPA              BUMTHANG                     5th to 7th OCT
THIMPHU TSHECHU                          THIMPHU                        6th  to 8th OCT
THANGBI MANI                                 BUMTHANG                    10th  to 12th OCT
JAMBAY LHAKHANG DRUB                  BUMTHANG                    10th  to 14th NOV
PRAKHAR TSHECHU                           BUMTHANG                    11th  to 13th NOV
MONGAR TSHECHU                            MONGAR                        1st  to 4th  DEC
PEMAGATSHEL TSHECHU                    PEMAGATSHEL               1st  to 4th  DEC
TRASHINGANG TSHECHU                    TRSASHIGANG               2nd  to 5th DEC
NALAKHAR TSHECHU                         BUMTHANG                    10th   to 12th DEC
TRONGSA TSHECHU                          TRONGSA                       2nd  to 4th JAN, 2012
LHUENTSE TSHECHU                         LHUENTSE                     2nd  to 4th JAN, 2012

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Thimphu votes for Kinlay Dorjee
Friday, January 21, 2011:THIMPHU THROMDE: Kinlay Dorjee has been elected the Thrompon of the capital Thimphu. Kinlay Dorjee won 1335 votes, with a comfortable lead of 182 votes. Karma Thinlay Wangchuk got 1153 votes. Rinzin Dorji is in the third place with 606 votes. This is according to preliminary reports. The official results will be declared tomorrow.
Source:BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Thimphu hit by a dearth of drugs
Tuesday, January 11, 2011: The Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in the capital has been facing an acute shortage of drugs for quite some time now. The patients cannot get the required medicines. It is also difficult to get the prescribed medicines from the medical shops.
According to patients visiting the hospital, if the doctors prescribe four to five different medicines, only two or three are available from the dispensary counter. They have to buy the rest from the medical shops.
“We are asked to buy the medicines from the medical shops but we can’t find them in any of the medical shops,” said a frustrated patient.
Medical shop owners are required to register all the drugs they want to import with the Drug Regulatory Authority. According to pharmacists who run the medical shops, this is making it difficult for them to procure medicines.
P.S. Sada runs the City Pharmacy in the capital town. According to him “getting medicines registered with the authority is difficult. To do this, we have to submit a dossier produced by the company and each product will have a dossier consisting of no less than 200 pages.”
Ratna Samal, the proprietor of the Himalaya Medical Shop, said “previously we use to sell all the products but from March 2010, the Drug Regulatory Authority asked us to sell only the registered products.”
Sonam Dorji, a Drug Controller from the Drug Regulatory Authority, said medical shops have to register the drugs they want to sell with the authority so that they can ensure the quality of the medicines.
Meanwhile, the Media focal person of the Health Ministry Kado Zangpo said the shortage was caused mainly due to the changes in the procurement system.
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Prime Minister of Bhutan leaves for Bangladesh
Monday, January 10, 2011:The Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley left for a four-day state visit to the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka today. He is visiting Bangladesh as the chair of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).During the visit, the Prime Minister will call on the President of Bangladesh and meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bhutan and Bangladesh will sign an agreement on cultural cooperation which is expected to foster closer cooperation between the two countries in cultural fields.The two countries will sign a memorandum of understanding on health, particularly the recruitment of specialists and medical doctors.According to a news release from the Prime Minister’s office, the visit will provide an opportunity to renew and further strengthen the existing bonds of friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and Bangladesh. Relations between Bhutan and Bangladesh date back to the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country in 1971.Bhutan was among the first country to recognise independent Bangladesh. Since then, Bhutan and Bangladesh have enjoyed warm and friendly relations. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1973 and resident missions were set up in 1980.
As chair of SAARC, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley has also visited Delhi, India in October 2010 and Colombo, Sri Lanka in November 2010.
It says the visits provide an opportunity to review and discuss the progress of the implementation of the Thimphu Declaration, an outcome of the 16th SAARC summit held in Thimphu in April 2010.Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley is accompanied by the Minister of Health, other senior government officials and business representatives.
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FAM trip for Tour Operators
Friday, January 7, 2011: This is to inform that Tourism Council of Bhutan Secretariat (TCBS) in collaboration with ABTO and Mongar Dzongkhag is organizing a 15 days FAM tour for the Local Tour Operators to Mongar to show case the new tourism products including Aja Nye.Interested local tour operators can register with the Tourism Council of Bhutan Secretariat latest by January 11th 2011 for the said tour. The tour will commence from 14th January 2011 till 28th January 2011. However, please note that only the first 20 tour operators will be selected on first come first basis. For details and registration please contact Ms.Karma Choden, TCBS at 323251/2 for information.

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Maruti Van bursts into flame
Thursday, January 6, 2011: A Maruti van burst into flame near the Tashi Bhutan Oil Distributors in the heart of Phuentsholing town yesterday afternoon. The incident took place around 2:45 pm.Police and Tashi staff managed to put off the fire before it could spread further.It is not clear what sparked the fire.According to a girl working at the Bhutan Oil Distributors who witnessed the incident, the van burst into flames after several attempts to start the vehicle. There were four men in the van. She told police that they fueled the car and bought 35 litres of petrol in a jerry can. As the men prepared to leave, the vehicle failed to start. After the driver made several attempts to start the engine, the van burst into flames.
None of the four men were hurt in the incident.All four fled the scene after the incident. Police have, however, ruled out foul play.The Chief of Police, who is currently in Phuentsholing, said if they had come to cause mischief, they wouldn’t have come with a vehicle bearing a registered number plate.Police are trying to trace the men. Jaigoan police have also been informed about the incident.
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PUNAKHA FESTIVAL TOUR PACKAGE: The festival goes from Feb. 13 to Feb. 15, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011:Highlights
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan and its Dzong is architecturally one of its most  stunning structures (Dzong, the fortress style of architecture of Bhutan.) With a number of important temples, sprawling courtyards, set at a peaceful confluence of two rivers, against a backdrop of verdant hills, Punakha Dzong is a great stage for a festival. While the first part of the Punakha Dromchoe is dedicated to Mahakala, the goddess of death and protector of Buddhist monasteries, appearing in countless wall frescoes and thankas, the concluding part of the festival relates the story from the 17th-century when Bhutan was invaded by Tibetan army. The festival finale portrays the zest of the Bhutanese soldiers who smitten with war fervor ride out symbolically into battle from the courtyard of the dzong to fight the invading Tibetan troops.The Punakha Tshechu, as all Tshechu festivals, honors Padma Sambhawa, also known as Guru Rimpoche, the precious yogi and saint who is credited with having introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. The festival's masked dances are performed by monks clad in colorful brocade attire and permeated by chants and reading of Buddhist scripts. The culmination of  festival constitutes the unfolding of a huge cloth thanka, a sacred scroll, depicting Padma Smabhawa and imagery from Buddhist pantheon.
Do not miss this wonderful, festival in the scenic Punakha Valley! We can design your tour so you see the festival opening day as well as the closing festival events five days later, while in between you'll visit Trongsa, one of  Bhutan's most stunning sites for a township, its Dzong perched high above a deep gorge, a panorama that you'll remember forever.

Punakha Festival Group Tour
February 3 - 15, 2011
DAY 1 Feb 3 ARRIVE in PARO
DAY 2 Feb 4 PARO (Excursion to TAKTSANG Monastery)
DAY 3 Feb 5 PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 4 Feb 6 THIMPHU - WANGDUE
DAY 5 Feb 7 WANGDUE – TRONGSA
DAY 6 Feb 8 TRONGSA - BUMTHANG
DAY 7 Feb 9 BUMTHANG
DAY 8 Feb 10 BUMTHANG - GANGTEY
DAY 9 Feb 11 GANGTEY - PUNAKHA
DAY 10 Feb 12 PUNAKHA festival
DAY 11 Feb 13 PUNAKHA festival
DAY 12 Feb 14 PUNAKHA - THIMPHU - PARO
DAY 13 Feb 15 DEPART BHUTAN
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Old tradition, new lease of life
Monday, January 3, 2011:An age old tradition that is slowly dying in the face of modernization may survive after all.On Nyinlo or winter solstice, village children go around, hour to house, singing Lolay, wishing the occupants, health and happiness, peace and prosperity. This tradition is slowly disappearing even in the villages with more and more children going to school or living in urban areas and generally losing touch with tradition.To revive the tradition, the folk heritage museum under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck has initiated a programme. Under this, children in the capital town visit the homes of the residents singing Lolay. As is befitting, they began by singing Lolay at the home of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchcuk. They also visited the home of the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, and senior government officials.In the villages, the occupants give the children rice, dried meat, cheese and butter. The next day, the children go for a picnic to celebrate the occasion.Nyinlo is celebrated as New Year mainly by the people of Thimphu and Punakha which are together referred to as Wong-tsho-chen-gay.

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Farm House stay in central Bhutan

29th December 2010: Details of rooms available under farm houses at Chhokortoe villages under Wangchuck Centennial Park, Bumthang
1.    As of December 27, 2010 – 20 farm house rooms are available. About 35 rooms will be available by 31.01.2011.
2.    The farm houses are Bhutanese traditional houses (ground and first floor). They are located in the north of Chamkar town, which is about 23 Kms. away. It is a dirt road drive of an hour from Chamkar town.
3.    The farm houses also provide food (Bhutanese cuisines) and drinks (cordyceps Ara) as per the requests.
4.    Entertainments like group dancing, khuru and local treks to Dapham Dzong can be arranged as per the request of the guests.
5.    A number of international guests have already availed the services of these farm houses. Almost all the guests have expressed as their excellent lifetime experience in such unique home-stays.
6.    The farm houses program can be combined with trek to Dapham Dzong ruin (archeological site), which would take half a day. Trek to Khagtang can be good for early morning birding (half day). The guests can also drive to Dhur (Menchugang) and do birding or drive further up to Dawathang Forest Management Unit.
7.    All the farm houses have hot stone bath provisions.
8.    All farm houses have flush toilet and shower. They will be connected with electricity by December 28, 2010. At present they have solar lighting facility.
9.    There is Tashi Cell network (mobile phone) in the farm houses.

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12 hours strike in Assam and West Bengal, India
28th December 2010: Hundreds of passengers stranded in Gelephu by a 12 hour strike in Assam and West Bengal, India, have been able to proceed on their journey in nick of time. They managed to leave today, just one day before another two day strike is to begin.Most of the travelers are pilgrims who had come to attend the 17 day oral transmission from His Eminence the Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche. They have now left for Phuntsholing and Samdrupjongkhar and from there towards home.Most of them have been in Gelephu for weeks. Their resources were running out.Looking worried, they gathered at the Indo-Bhutan border gate from 5am yesterday, hoping for news that the strike was over and they can leave. Frustrated, they complained.Lekjay was on his way to Phuentsholing. “We learnt that there will be a strike tomorrow too. Some of the travelers were allowed to go, we were not,” he said.Tashi, a taxi driver, was miffed because “orange trucks were allowed to go” and he and his passengers were not. “This just isn’t fair,” he said.Kado was worried his money is running out. “In a few days time we won’t even have money to travel.”The Gelephu police was however adamant. The travelers cannot leave. It was too risky. They could get injured or even killed if they are caught in the strike.Police said they cannot be held responsible if people leave on their own.

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His Majesty King of Bhutan grants audience to the Crown Prince of Norway
Monday, December 27, 2010: His Majesty the King granted an audience to the Crown Prince of Norway, His Royal Highness Prince Haakon Magnus at the Lingkana Palace, today.His Royal Highness is accompanied by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit and the royal children. They are in Bhutan on a 10-day private visit.His Majesty the King also hosted a luncheon at the Lingkana Palace.

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White Water Adventure Guide Training Complete
26th December 2010: Under the Programme for South-South Cooperation through Sustainable Development Secretariat, Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), the bilateral project on “Rural Adventure Tourism Enhancement and Sustainable Community Development in Bhutan and Costa Rica” is jointly being managed by ABTO and Rios Tropical. Under this project, 17 tour guides were trained by two White Water Adventure experts from Costa Rica (Mr.Johnny Calderon Monge and Mr. Walter Fernando MongeGambao) and one from Bhutan (Mr. SonamTobgay, Lotus Adventures Bhutan).
Training methods and approaches are as follows:
1.Understanding the hydrology system of the rivers,
2.Rescue techniques, safety kayaking and first aid
3.Raft preparation and guiding along the rivers
4.Learning new swimming techniques in different river currents
5.Managing tourists on rafts and during emergencies

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His Majesty hosts lunch for 2010 medalists
Wednesday, December 25, 2010:His Majesty the King hosted lunch for the all the 27 individuals yesterday who were conferred the Druk Thuksey, Druk Khorlo and national orders of merit during the last National Day.  The awardees were accompanied by their immediate family members.The guests were entertained by a variety show put up by the popular artistes from the Motion Pictures Association of Bhutan and the Royal Academy for Performing Arts.His Majesty the King also granted cash soelra to each awardee.

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18 Bhutanese pilgrims perish in Nepal plane crash tragedy.
16 December, 2010 - It has been confirmed that a flight originating from Daphu Martika airport coming towards Kathmandu and scheduled to land at 5 pm yesterday did not reach its destination.Rescue operations were launched immediately but had to be stopped due to bad weather and darkness.It has now been confirmed that the plane has crashed. The crash site was located at 6.30 this morning.  There were no survivors. The plan was carrying a total of 22 people on board and 18 are thought to be Bhutanese.All necessary and possible arrangements is being made for the recovery of the bodies to be brought to Kathmandu and thereafter to Thimphu.A 9 member team led by the cabinet secretary and two zimpon wogmas left for Kathmandu at 11 am.

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Tashi Air and Drukair to operate domestic air in Bhutan by 2011.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010:Tashi Air and Drukair has been given the approval to operate domestic air service in the country.The airlines were approved by the Cabinet yesterday on the basis that the two projects had submitted an independent ‘project document’ as required and had responded thoroughly and meaningfully to the requirements of the project manifest.Domestic air service will start by March 1 next year but the Ministry of Information and Communications will grant a flexibility period of one month which means the deadline of operation will be April 1 next year.After obtaining the domestic air license, Tashi Air will be allowed to operate international air services. A third party, Bhutan Air Private Limited which also made its bid was disqualified.This is because the Bhutan Air Private Limited had not responded adequately to the requirements of the project manifest. Bhutan Air Private Limited apparently has not made any move towards establishment of a ‘Unit Airline Company’ comprising four partners and has not fulfilled the preliminary requisites such as office location, equipment and installations which were required to be evidenced in the ‘project document’.The release from the Prime Minister’s office stated that Drukair met all the requirements while Tashi Air which submitted a proposal along commercial lines was deemed financially strong.According to the project document, Drukair has opted that it will be able to execute the necessary agreement upon being awarded the contract for procurement of any of the DHC 6 or ATR aircraft.On the other hand, Tashi Air has made a selection of a brand new self owned PC-12 which is a single-engine turboprop passenger and cargo aircraft manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland.

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New IT centre for teachers in Bhutan.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010:Teachers from across the country will now get the opportunity to learn information and communication technology skills. And this has been made possible with the opening of seven teacher training centres. One of them is the center at Paro College of Education.This initiative comes under the Chiphen Rigphel Project which was started by Royal Government in partnership with Government of India in April this year.The centre was inaugurated by the Education Minister Thakur Singh Powdyel and the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Dr. Pavan K. Varma.It is aimed to give IT knowledge to as many Bhutanese as possible.The centre at the Paro College of education has the capacity to train about 50 people at a time. Teachers will be able to use computers for correspondence, research and information gathering, lesson planning, record keeping and as a teaching tool.The trainings will be conducted during the winter vacations. According to the education ministry, about 70 percent of the 4,000 teachers across the country do not have information and communication technology skills.But they will now be trained at Colleges of Education in Paro and Samtse and at Damphu, Zhemgang, Monggar, Ranjung and Samdrup Jongkhar Middle Secondary Schools. The project aims to train about 5,000 teachers by 2015.

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Bank of Bhutan launches Master Card
Monday, December 13, 2010:Master Card is now available in Bhutan. Launched by the Bank of Bhutan, the card can be used by Bhutanese travelling outside to make transactions. It also means that tourists visiting Bhutan need not carry bundles of cash. Their Master and VISA cards can be used for doing business in the country.Launching the Master Card which has been described as a milestone in the Kingdom’s banking history, the communications minister Lyonpo Nandalal Rai said “ the facility will not only help tourists but also businessmen and Bhutanese travelling outside.”It will benefit hoteliers, restaurateurs and handicraft shop owners who cater to tourists and foreign visitors the most.Bank of Bhutan is planning to launch VISA International Card which can be used in both local and international shops.VISA card which is due for launch in a few months time can also be used for online shopping.

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Bhutan Travel Tour Offer Bhutan Tour Packages with www.bhutanvisitors.com
12th December 2010: Unraveling itself as a quintessential civilization, Bhutan embraced democracy in 2008 entering into the world record as the youngest democratic nation. Democracy in Bhutan is interwoven around the principles of Buddhism, the state religion, which guides it in its ways of life and living centuries of self-imposed isolationism brought about peace, tranquility and stability which all gave the way for self-determination. Bhutan’s greatest pride to date is: it never experienced the yoke of colonization. As a result, opened up to the outside world just in 1960s, Bhutan had her own choosing to weave its own tapestry of destiny in the comity of diversified nations with differing fundamentals and beliefs.

Today, a tiny nation nestled in the heart of Himalayas; Bhutan appears a towering nation that deeply believes in core elements of egalitarianism and beauty of happy co-existence with the nature and rest of the world.Neither it lets the hand of capitalism direct its course of economic development nor does it remain aloof from benefits it provides.Showing to the world how a small nation such as Bhutan can be a model, she follows an all-encompassing development philosophy called “Gross National happiness”. Bhutan denies that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of economic development. She attempts to take all her citizens on the same boat no matter whatever little prosperity it could sail for.Bhutanese people who number just little more than 600,000 are deeply religious. The rich culture and traditions form the integral part of their social and economic life style.The scenes of thousands of temples and monuments that dot wilderness of the virgin vegetation, chanting monks and fluttering prayer flags will say it all.Travel to Bhutan is an adventure in pursuit of a formidable hidden land – different in character and social fiber from the rest. Known as the land of Thunder Dragon to foreigners, Bhutan is undeniably the last bastion of confluence where the past and the contemporary co-exist harmoniously.Travel to Bhutan presents you the rarity of experience that truly differentiates from those amid unbridled greed and anxiety elsewhere. Bhutan has her breath-taking beauty to show.

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Rays of hope from Bhutan Tourism Promotion
11th December 2010:The heritage village of Dangkhar in Zhemgang hopes to benefit after opening to tourism from December. Our reporter Tandin Pem, who visited the village, finds out more about the village Dangkhar under Trong gewog in Zhemgang is declared as a heritage village, there are 18 old traditional houses with wooden windows, doors and staircases. All the houses are built using mud, stones, wood and bamboos. A stone footpath connects all the houses. Most houses have a small vegetable garden next to it. There is also a lhakhang.This is Dangkhar village un¬der Trong gewog in Zhemgang which has been declared as a heritage village. A typical Bhu¬tanese village of more than hundred years old, it is being preserved to attract tourists by the Tourism Council of Bhutan under the Programme for South to South Corporation Fund.The village is located below the highway before reaching Zhemgang dzong. A rough road leads to the village from near the dzong.The house owners are re¬stricted from making changes to the appearance of their houses and surroundings. A few new houses are being built but in the old traditional way.Most people who live in the village are happy.Dorji Dema, 47, is born and brought up in Dangkhar. Like most others, she lives in a joint family with her daughter and her family. In her house, there is a common bedroom and a kitchen with a fireplace. Maize is stacked on the roof beam of the kitchen. A new toilet has been built outside the main door of the house.With development, the people of the village have started using gas stoves.“We do use the mud fire¬place for cooking but gas is more convenient,” said Dorji.Previously, the houses in the village did not have toilets, but now each and every house in has a toilet. The people were also provided with CIG sheets to roof their houses. The footpath connecting the houses was also renovated. A small camp site has been built near the village for tourists.The people of Dangkhar are agrarians and depend solely on farming to make their liv¬ing. What they grow is just enough to sustain themselves. A few work as laborers to earn some extra income for the family. Their only cash crop is potato.In the village, the daughters inherit the wealth and properties of their parents. The girls from the are usually beautiful.We received electricity 20 years ago and the rough road seven years ago but nothing has been developed in the village,” said Norbu Gyeltshen, the tshogpa of Dangkhar. However, he is expecting some development after the village is opened to tourism.Norbu said that the village was named Dangkhar because when the sun rises from the opposite village, the first rays fall on the village.The residents of the village can speak most of the dialects of Bhutan because the village is located near the highway. There are many class X drop¬outs in the village.“Some who fared well have migrated to the urban centers leaving behind old parents,” said the tsogpa.
The project to develop Dan¬gkhar as a heritage village will employ locals. Once the camp¬site is ready, the project will be handed over to the villagers who will have to take care of everything.“We will have our own local guides and other food and services will also be provided by us,” said the tsogpa. This will stop rural-urban migration and will develop the village, he said.Dangkhar village has 42 household with 530 people, but this project will benefit only 18 houses which are clus¬tered together. The rest of the houses are scattered.Twenty-five people from the village have been trained in cooking, visi¬tor manage¬ment, food and beverages, and house¬keeping under the project to carter to the need of the tourists.The people are expecting tourists from December.

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National Council of Bhutan recommends stronger road safety measures

10 December 2010:Most traffic problems in the country could be addressed if the recommendations made by the social and cultural affairs committee of the National Council for road safety are taken up by the government.The committee made recommendations on safety measures and provisions, traffic rules, proper planning of roads, staff for agencies concerned and coordination between implementing agencies.Chhukha MP Tshewang Lhamo, a member of the committee, said that 982 road accidents in the last 10 years had claimed 51 lives. “There are about eight vehicles for every kilometre of road,” she said, adding that the increase in number of vehicles and pedestrian population has made the towns unsafe.She said unscientific road engineering, lack of planning and execution, unplanned road network in urban areas, and lack of research on accident-prone areas are main causes of accidents.Tshewang Lhamo also said that, while roads are meant for public transport, some of them are put to multiple uses including overnight parking, stacking of construction materials, and keeping domestic animals.Some of the zebra crossings are made at inconvenient places leading to confusion among pedestrians and drivers alike, she said. Narrow footpaths in the city compel pedestrians to use roads, which poses threat to life. She also highlighted lack of parking space in Thimphu. The committee recommended that traffic monitoring system be improved through the recruitment of adequate staff with sufficient expertise. It noted that there is lack of trained staff in the RSTA.
Gasa MP Sangay Khandu said there is need for walkovers and flyovers to reduce accidents and confusion among road users.

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Kuwait Football Association to provide US$ 100,000 every year to Bhutan Football Federation.
December 9th December 2010: The Kuwait Football Association will provide technical assistance and US$ 100,000 to the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) every year for promotion and development of the game in Bhutan.A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed by the President of the Olympic Council of Asia on behalf of the President of the Kuwait Football Association and the President of the Bhutan Football Federation Ugen Tshechup Dorji in the presence of His Majesty’s representative and the President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck. The MoU was signed in Kuwait. His Royal Highness is in Kuwait on the invitation of the Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait and President of the Olympic Council of Asia.His Royal Highness left the country on Monday. On Tuesday, His Royal Highness met with the Deputy Prime Minister at Bayan Palace, in Kuwait.His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck will also attend the Asian Beach Games 2010 in Muscat the capital city of Oman starting yesterday. Bhutan is represented by two weightlifters at the Asian Beach Games 2010.His Royal Highness will return to Bhutan on Friday.

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Bhutan favorite Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif: 7th December 2010: Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that Tees Maar Khan makes a good opening. It is reported that she is promoting the film like never before and even taking it to the popular television show Bigg Boss 4.

It is said that Katrina and director Farah Khan are coming to the sets of Bigg Boss next week to promote their film Tees Maar Khan. It added that they would shake their body to the tunes of “Walla Re Walla” along with Salman Khan, who is the host of the show.Tees Maar Khan, starring Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif and Akshaye Khanna, is releasing this Christmas, on December 24.

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Reconstruction of Bumthang progressing well
Monday, December 6, 2010:His Majesty’s representatives for people’s welfare in Bumthang, Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck visited Chamkhar town where a major reconstruction work is underway.Almost half of Chamkhar town was razed to the ground in a devastating fire in the small hours of October 26.During the visit this morning, Her Royal Highness expressed satisfaction with the progress of the reconstruction work. Some 300 Royal Bhutan Army personnel and volunteers are assisting the business people of Chamkhar town rebuild their homes.Unlike in the past, the houses will not be constructed close to each other. To reduce the risk of fire, the houses are also being built mostly with mud bricks. A new vegetable market and meat shops will be built separately.Construction materials including sand, mud bricks, CGI sheets and timber are being provided free of cost.

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Black necked cranes sighted in Gelephu southern Bhutan.
Wednesday, December 5, 2010:A family of four black necked cranes has apparently decided to spend this winter season in Chuzergang in Gelephu. Residents who sighted the four spectacular birds prancing about merrily in the paddy fields are overjoyed.Rinchen Lhato, a resident, said “the birds have been here for a week or so now.”They are hopeful that this is not a stray incident and that the birds, which are seen as good omen, have decided to make Chuzergang their home.This is the first time that the endangered birds were sighted roosting in Chuzergang in Gelephu or anywhere in southern Bhutan. Their main roosting areas in Bhutan are Phobjikha in Wangdue and Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse.“I have asked many people here and nobody has seen them before in this region. When we talked to an expert we found that the cranes may have lost their way to their actual habitat,” said Sonam Wangdi, a forest ranger.The cranes were first spotted in Chuzergang on November 14.Officials from the Royal Society for Protection of Nature also visited the areas. According to them it is not unusual to see the cranes in lower altitudes.
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Moenlam Chhenmo in Tsirang ended
Sunday, November 28, 2010:The week-long Moenlam Chhenmo or the Great Prayer Ceremony which was presided over by His Holiness the Je Khenpo in Tsirang concluded yesterday. This is the fifth annual Moenlam Chhenmo conducted in Tsirang.Over 1,000 devotees, comprising of lams and monks from the Dratshang attended the Moenlam Chhenmo.On the concluding day, His Holiness the Je Khenpo and the monks performed Gyem Tangra Sung-Choe. His Holiness also administered Chabdro, Mani and Baza Guru Lung to the devotees. Towards evening, His Holiness the Je Khenpo administered Ten-Wang to the gathering.The ceremony was attended by over 1,000 of devotees, including people from the neighbouring dzongkhags.The prayer ceremony was being conducted for the well-being of the King, the Country and the People.

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Against Women observed
Thursday, November 25, 2010:November 25 is observed as International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women. Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck joined the people of Paro to mark the day.“Commit, Act and Demand: We can stop violence against women”, is the theme for this year’s International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women. The theme reiterates the need for all stakeholders to work together and end all forms of violence against women in the country.At the function in Drugyal Higher Secondary School, Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck said at least one out of every three women suffer some form of mental, physical or sexual abuse. This global scenario Her Majesty said is alarming and gives added reason to use the occasion to remind oneself of the renewed commitments to the cause of women in Bhutan.Her Majesty the Queen Mother also said that the youth should understand this subject and its negative impact on the society.The Resident Coordinator of the UN systems in Bhutan, Claire Van der Vaeren said violence against women and girls cut across all boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. She added, globally up to six out of every 10 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.The Resident Coordinator also said that the UN will continue to assist Bhutan and the civil society organizations to support programmes aimed at curbing gender-based violence.As part of the occasion, RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women) members from Paro Dzongkhag also demonstrated short skits and programmes on gender related issues.Following the official function, Her Majesty the Queen Mother also met with the students of Drugyal Higher Secondary School. Interacting with those gathered for the occasion, Her Majesty the Queen Mother spoke on the need to stop violence against women.During the celebration, dzongkhag dancers and students of Drugyal Higher Secondary School presented various cultural programme.Later, Her Majesty the Queen Mother interacted with the gathered women and served Tokha.

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SAARC Trade and Travel Fair, Kathmandu
24th November 2010: The Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators would like to inform that Bhutan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) has secured booth space for the upcoming 10th SAARC Trade Fair that will be held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 15-19 December 2010. The theme of the said fair is “Regional Prosperity through Trade” with the following objectives:

  • To promote the products & Services produced and available in SAARC member countries
  • To explore feasibility and development
  • To conduct buyer-seller meet between stakeholder for the trade opportunities and
  • To update and further strengthen the relationship among the people of SAARC nations


The fair will focus on tourism mart, food festival, cultural events, entertainment activities, buyer/seller meetings and seminars on the subjects of mutual interests.
Source: Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators, www.bhutanvisitors.com,www.bhutantour.biz

Welcome Visitors: Black-Necked Cranes numbers have been seen to increase over the last three years
Black-Necked Cranes 23 November, 2010 – Just as Bhutanese nomadic communities in the east and up north begin to descend towards the lower climes for the winter months, so do the migratory birds.Of the numerous such birds that flock in and out of the country every year, nomads and conservationists follow and monitor, almost like a ritual, those of the legendary black-necked cranes.In fact, their arrival signals the end of harvest season for farmers, who wear a celebrative mood, having pulled through the year’s months of toil in the fields.For nomads it is a beckoning to warmer climes, away from the mountains they trudge with their yaks.So far, as of yesterday, the two parks of Phobjikha and Bomdeling recorded the flights of some 107 cranes into the country.Of the total, Phobjikha in Wangduephodrang saw about 81 cranes land at their usual roosting places; and about 26 in Bomdeling, Trashiyangtse.Two adult cranes with two young ones were the first to arrive at Phobjikha on November 2 at around 1 pm this year.The royal society for protection of nature field officer in Phobjikha, Tshering Choki, said the birds arrived 10 days later than last year.“We normally see the first of them flock in sometime towards the last week of October,” she said. “They arrived on October 24 last year.”Phurba Wangdi, who has been studying and maintaining the roosting grounds for the birds, said the first two birds in Bomdeling arrived a day later than those in Phobjikha.The society records show that crane population visiting the country in winters has been increasing over the last three years.
About 443 cranes were recorded in 2007, 457 in 2008 and 462 in 2009.Emphasising the importance of protecting the birds and retaining their roosting areas in the country, Tshering Choki said Phobjikha village was electrified without overhead electric wires.“Any kind of field work is also restricted during the crane season to avoid disturbances to the birds,” she said.After spending almost five months in the country, the cranes fly back to their winter roosting places on the Tibetan plateau in March.

Source: kuenselonline

His Holiness presides over the Moenlam Chhenmo in Tsirang
Monday, November 22, 2010:His Holiness the Je Khenpo is presiding over the fifth Moenlam Chhenmo, Great Prayer Ceremony in Tsirang.  It is being attended by over thousand devotees including people from neighbouring dzongkhags, lams and monks from the Tsirang Dratshang.The week long Moenlam Chhenmo began today. It is being conducted for the well-being of the King, the Country and the People.The prayer ceremony will end on Saturday.

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Druk Air out of domestic air service bid
21st November: London-based Route Network LLP – which is partnering with Dasho Sangay Wangchuk, the promoter of Druk Punjab National Bank – has won the bid for the much sought after domestic air service sector, Business Bhutan has learnt from reliable sources.The department of civil aviation invited international and domestic companies to submit proposals to operate domestic air services sometime in January this year.Route Network LLP had initially bid as a 100% FDI project. But since 100% is not allowed in domestic air services, the company found its local partner in Dasho Sangay Wangchuk.The selected company’s name has been submitted to the cabinet which will make the final decision. Meanwhile, the communications ministry is negotiating with the bid winner on several issues ranging from the number of years it would be allowed to operate as a monopoly to possible subsidies.“Right now it is not certain (the bid winning) as the decision is not yet passed,” Dasho Sangay Wangchuk told Business Bhutan and did not comment further.Four companies had submitted the proposal for domestic air services: DrukAir, Rainbow Tours and Treks along with two international companies, Route Network LLP and Niche (BBI), Singapore.
Even after the competition of evaluating the four proposals, the domestic air service committee felt more could be done. Though selected, the winning bid has not been made public so far.

The four companies were asked to provide a presentation on their business proposals by April 11 but only three were able to present the operating model and answer government’s questions.
As the decision to announce the bid winning company was delaying, rumours spiralled. Many thought that Druk Air had won the bid.
“We felt an interactive presentation is required to determine how serious the potential operators are,” Chewang Gyeltshen, a senior airworthiness officer with civil aviation, told the media earlier on the delay.
The selected company will also be the sole operator for helicopter and fixed wing air service within Bhutan and it has to start service by September this year.
Air operation will initially start with the helicopter service and move to fixed winged aircraft when the three new domestic airports are ready. Yongphula in Trashigang is expected to be completed by June 2010, Bathpalathang by December 2010 and Gelephu by mid 2011. Also on offer to the operator will be 60 potential helipad sites across the country.Infrastructure like hanger, airfield and storage space will be offered by the government but the operator will have to bring in their own planes, pilots, and engineers.However the number of aircrafts and the frequency of operation will be left to the operator depending on the market size.A source close to the latest development said that though the Bhutanese partner of the winning company wants to buy Twin Otters, series 400, the foreign partner preferred Dornier.Twin Otter, series 400, is a popular 19-seater Canadian aircraft. Viking Air ltd, which was a part of the recent Canadian business delegation to the country, manufactures Twin Otter.The DCA officials are expecting that the domestic carrier will select Paro Airport as its main operation base as the airport already has all the facilities like oil storage, equipments and space.The domestic air services will be of two types. One is scheduled service with timetables and regular frequency open to the public for booking. The second one is taxi services, which will be aircraft on demand for non-scheduled flights like a special tour for tourists.

The domestic operator will also be allowed to operate single engine aircraft and helicopters with safety standards.
DCA officials said that a Request for Proposal (RFP) was being floated in place of a tender as they did not really know the technical specifications but would have to come to an agreement depending on the broad guidelines of the department and the proposals received.
The communications minister Lyonpo Nandalal Rai confirmed that the matter has reached the cabinet.

Source:Business Bhutan    www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Bhutan to uniformize trade data with other saarc countries
20th November:Kuenga Tshering, the director of National Statistical Bureau  was elected as the chairperson of the SAARC Group on Statistic (SAARCSTAT) during its third meeting in Paro on Thursday.The meeting discussed to have a common Trade in Services data for all the SAARC regions which will enhance partnerships among statistical offices in the region.This data is focused on helping the SAARC governments to make plans for the country in the service sector including industries like energy, banking, information technology, telecommunications, transportation, education, health and capital markets.Labor Minister Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi said the trade in service data was needed to strengthen regional trade link, establish a mechanism for monetary cooperation, harmonize macroeconomic policies, intensify cooperation in the service sector and formalize informal trade.He added that “more importantly, regional statistics are crucial as we seek to promote SAARC as free trade area, one investment hub and one tourism destination.”Coming up with the trade in service data has become crucial to promote SAARC as a free trade area, one investment hub and one tourism destination.Kuenga Tshering the chairperson of SAARCSTAT, said, “Not all the countries have correct data on the service trade.”According to him even if few countries have the trade in service data it is not compatible with the other regions. So far, countries like Maldives and Bhutan are lacking behind in coming up with the data.Though Bhutan has the data on various service sectors like tourism, service industries, education, and health it is not very accurate and do not really help the government in planning.For instance, the government has plans to bring in 100,000 tourists. But for that to materialise, an accurate data on tourism is needed, which the chairperson said is lacking.“We have the data for trade in service for our country but to come up with a complete data from other countries is also needed,” the deputy director general of Pakistan’s federal bureau of statistic, Arif Mahmood Cheema, said.In Pakistan, all the trade in service data is collected for the state bank (similar to the central bank) through the monetary transactions within and outside the country.But for Bhutan, the data collected are not very accurate and they are collected from the concerned agency which later are compiled by NSB.The Maldives delegates were also not very sure on to how to proceed with the collection of data.“Our country is very new to this and we do not know much about it,” said Aishath Shahudha, executive director of the finance ministry in Maldives.As the formation of trade in service data comes as a matter of urgency to SAARC nations, the Asian Development Bank has agreed on funding the data collection.The first meeting for SAARCSTAT was held in 2005 in Kolkata, India, and the second meeting was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2008.The main objective of the SAARCSTAT is to support regional cooperation and initiatives in statistics planning. Soon a website will also be launched on the regional trade in service data. The website named SAARCSTAT will have data for the entire SAARC region.

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His Majesty graces the opening session of the Parliament
Friday, November 19, 2010:His Majesty the King graced the opening ceremony of the 6th session of the Parliament today.Her Royal Highness the Princesses, senior government officials and members of the international organizations also graced the opening ceremony. In his address, His Majesty the King thanked the donor countries for helping Bhutan to achieve the development plans.As the country is presently undertaking the mid-term review of the 10th Five Year Plan, His Majesty said that India’s assistance has been wholehearted and generous to the first development plan under our new democracy.On this note, His Majesty on behalf of the people of Bhutan conveyed his deep appreciation to the government and the people of India.His Majesty added that on his return from India recently, he was depressing to learn about the fire incident in Bumthang Chamkhar. His Majesty thanked His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, who visited Chamkhar in his absence and helped the victims immediately. His Majesty also thanked all those who came together in times of need.

The victims have been assured full support from the government. The message was clear; Bhutanese should help each other in times of need and maintain this culture for generations to come. And officials and parliamentarians should set an example because they are the trusted ones- said His Majesty the King.Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba- on behalf of the government thanked His Majesty the King for his unwavering support during the times of natural disasters.The Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay applauded the services rendered by the armed forces and thanked His Majesty the King for being the supreme commander in Chief of the armed forces.The Chairperson of the National Council, Namgay Penjore also thanked His Majesty for his continued support.Bumthang’s Dzongkhag’s National Council member also took the opportunity to thank His Majesty on behalf of the Bumthaps for His Majesty’s support and bringing back the lost smiles.

Source:BBS    www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.bhutantour.biz or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Vehicle tax revision is unconstitutional, High Court
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The recent tax revision by the government has been described as against the provisions of the Constitution.
The High Court in its verdict today directed the government to discontinue with the new taxation and has even asked the government to refund all taxes collected from the public as a result of the revised taxation.
The government had revised the vehicle tax in mid June this year to broaden its national revenue.

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Tokyo Host Global Travel & Tourism Summit in 2012
17th November:The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) today announces it will hold its 2012 Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Tokyo, Japan.Despite stiff competition from three other candidate cities, Tokyo's success was due to a convincing and compelling presentation that combined industry commitment, government support and enthusiasm from its agencies, dedication to a carbon neutral Summit and high standards of efficiency and capability. The overall accessibility of the destination and - following a deep recession - evidence of accelerating GDP growth and a re-emerging Japanese tourism market, will help ensure the Summit is the must-attend event of the year. The 100 year anniversary of Japan Tourism Board that same year will also guarantee the Summit is a resounding success."I'm very pleased that Tokyo will host our 2012 Summit. It is a city that enjoys more than 400 years of history and is also one of the most exciting modern and cultural destinations in the world," says Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President  & CEO for WTTC."Asia remains at the forefront of Travel & Tourism growth in the next few years. Our Summit's return to the region will give delegates the opportunity to address the issues and explore opportunities to secure the industry's success."
WTTC 11th Global Travel & Tourism Summit will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on 17-19 May 2011.The Summit is the world's highest-level gathering of Travel & Tourism industry Chairs, Chief Executives and senior government officials, working together to unlock our industry's significant potential for sustainable development and economic growth across the globe. The Summit will be hosted by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and supported by MGM Resorts International and the US Travel Association.
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Drapham Dzong built 400 years ago
Tuesday, November 16, 2010: How many of us know about Drapham Dzong in Bumthang. Not many. But we will soon get to know with the completion of the monograph or a detailed report of the archeological works on the Dzong. The report is expected to be out by 2012. The three year project was carried out jointly by the Department of Culture and the Swiss government. The finding of the excavation was presented to the home and cultural affairs minister during the third steering committee meeting today.Unlike most of the Dzongs in Bhutan, the Drapham Dzong in Bumthang is not built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It was built before the Zhabdrung era according to the findings. The carbon dating from a burnt charcoal revealed that the Dzong was built some 400 years ago.
Some of the finds from the excavation works were the domesticated animal bones, arrow heads, ceramic pieces and some pieces of pots. The officials from the department of culture said that studies are still going on.The project which is being executed jointly by the royal government and the Swiss government found that the site would be of great help for future reference.

Nagtsho Dorji from the Department of Culture said since Bhutan history did not have much of the recorded evidences, this kind of archaeological works will certainly help to study the features of the Dzong and better understand our history with evidences.
The site was also visited by His Majesty the King, Prime Minister and the home and cultural affairs minister recently. The site will be opened to tourists soon.

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Prime Minister on why Happiness should be considered as the Ninth MDG
Monday, November 15, 2010: The Prime Minister, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley, addressed the annual luster Meeting of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia Pacific in Dhaka, Bangladesh through video conference on Saturday.With more than 120 UNDP resident representatives and coordinators from Asia and the Pacific region attending the annual conference in Bangladesh, Lyonchhoen spoke on Bhutan’s development philosophy and the reasons why Bhutan has proposed happiness to be adopted as the Ninth Millennium Development Goal.With ‘regional progress towards the MDGs’ as one of the key themes for the annual cluster, the Prime Minister said that Bhutan’s proposal for inclusion of happiness as the Ninth MDG and its relevance was particularly highlighted by the fact that the subject of MDG, its progress since its introduction in the year 2000 was being deliberated upon in an environment of multiple crises. “These were, among others, the financial crisis, the soaring unemployment, growing inequalities, deepening poverty, failing democracies, as well as climate change crises and the devastations being caused by a host of natural calamities,” Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said.Happiness was proposed as the Ninth MDG for the reason that happiness is a universal value, a human goal that is timeless, and that will and must remain as a pursuit of the international community,” the Prime Minister said in his address to the annual conference.The Prime Minister, in his address also thanked UNDP for supporting the idea as demonstrated by their interests. Lyonchhoen added that the first time the concept of GNH travelled beyond the Bhutanese borders was when Bhutan was invited to speak on the subject at the Asia Pacific Millennium summit hosted by the UNDP in Seoul, Korea in October of 1998.The Prime Minister’s address was followed by an interactive question-answer session with the participants of the annual meeting in Dhaka. The Prime Minister also informed the gathering that the Bhutanese delegation is now working on introducing a resolution on the proposal in the second committee of UN general assembly.“If we succeed in enabling the practice of such a resolution, then we believe we will have created the facility for an ad hoc committee to be established, to conduct its study and make a final proposal which will include among others, of course, the various indicators that should be employed by the international community,” the Prime Minister said.

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His Majesty grants audience to Prince of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, November 14, 2010: His Majesty the King granted an audience to His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud of Saudi Arabia at the Ugyen Pelri Palace in Paro.  Prince Alwaleed was in the country on a day long visit today.Shortly after his arrival, His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz was granted an audience by His Majesty the King at the Ugyel Pelri Palace.His Royal Highness was accompanied by His Royal Consort Her Highness Princess Amirah Alotaibi. Prince Alwaleed is the nephew of Saudi King Abdullah and the grandson of King Abdul Aziz – the founder of Saudi Arabia.  He is considered one of the richest man in Saudi Arabia and the world’s 19th richest man by Forbes Magazine.His Royal Highness was received and later seen off at the Paro International Airport by the Gyalpoi Dronyer Dasho Agay Ugyen Dorji.

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Dwindling business in Rangjung
13 November 2010: Rangjung town wearing a deserted look surrounded by seven gewogs, including Merak and Sakteng, Rangjung town in Trashigang looks ideally located for good business and growth. But since 2007, the business has been declining and the town has seen little growth.Rangjung shopkeepers say the business is pathetic and they see little prospect of growth for the town. Kezang Norbu, a shopkeeper, said his eatery even failed to make enough money to pay busi¬ness income tax.Jambay Lhamo, the owner of Jambay Restaurant, said, “It took me three months to sell a carton of wine.” She said she can sell only a few plates of noodles a day.The Rangjung business community attributes the dwindling business to open¬ing of shops in the surround¬ing villages. Shops have come up wherever farm roads have reached, and for villagers, everything is available in their neighbourhood.Village shopkeepers buy things from Trashigang wholesalers leaving Rangjung shopkeepers with poor busi¬ness prospect.Sangay, a resident of Rangjung, said before shops came up in Khardung, Phong¬mey and Saling villages, people from Merak and Sak¬teng bought everything from Rangjung. Not anymore. The town is likely to experience further decline in business with opening of road to Merak and Sakteng.While some shopkeep¬ers are giving up business altogether, others are plan¬ning to move their business to Trashigang town, which is already too crammed.Meanwhile, what was once considered a housing boom has failed to take off. There are not enough tenants. Many business people, who planned to build houses in the town, are contemplating dropping the idea.

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Nu. 3.8 million for Bumthang fire victims
Friday, November 12, 2010:The Buddha Dordenman Donors from Singapore donated Nu. 3.8 million for the Bumthang fire victims. It was received earlier this morning by the Finance Minister Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu in the presence of the Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley.Receiving the cheque, Lyonchhoen said the donation will not only go a long way in meeting the cost for repair and restoration of facilities but also rebuilding new segments.The donors have also contributed during the September 21 quake last year. Lyonchhen expressed his gratitude to all those who have lent their helping hand during such times.

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Sacred Exhibition opens for public.
Thursday, November 11, 2010: Coinciding with the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, an exhibition showcasing religious artifacts opened for the public today. The Dragon’s Gift Exhibition was opened by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck.
After touring four countries, the religious artifacts are now being displayed at the Royal Academy of Performing Arts’ Hall beginning today. The Dragon’s Gift Exhibition was opened by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck.The Exhibition showcasing 46 bronze images and 65 Thangkas is a joint venture project of the Department of Culture and the Honolulu Academy of Arts in the United States of America.So far, the exhibition has attracted hundreds of thousands of people in the USA, France, Germany and Switzerland.

The Director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts said that most visitors from around the world have appreciated the exhibition claiming it rather as a support to Buddhist practice and a window into the spiritual world of Bhutan.The Exhibition is special according to the Department of Culture and the Academy as it showcases all the traditional antiques and artifacts in one venue.The Exhibition in Thimphu will continue for the next three weeks- after which it will travel to the other Dzongkhags.

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Indian tourists grow in numbers in Bhutan
10 November, 2010-The number of Indian tourists visiting Bhutan is on the rise. Regional immigration officials in Phuentsholing attributed this to the political turmoil prevailing in the hill regions of India. In October, considered a peak month because of the festivals in India, officials said issuance of permits went as high as 600 a day. An average of 200 permits were issued daily.To enhance convenience, the regional office has started issuing “route permits” within half an hour, which earlier took the entire day.The route permits allowed visitors to make trips to Thimphu and Paro, for a period of one month.According to sources, substantial number of Indian tourists started visiting Bhutan a couple of years ago. Majority of them came from the state of West Bengal and Maharastra.While the immigration department in Thimphu refused to share statistics, media reports show an average of 40,000 Indian tourists visit the country every year.This is expected to increase, with plans in the pipeline to attract tourists from other parts of India, media reports.

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Rehabilitation for fire victims begin in Bumthang.
November 9: His Majesty the King graced the Salang Tendrel or the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of temporary structures in Chamkhar in Bumthang for the fire victims, whose houses were gutted by fire on October 26. The ceremony was presided over by the Lam Neten of Jakar.Along with the affected families, His Majesty the King today graced the Salang Tendrel or the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of temporary structures in Chamkhar, Bumthang.The temporary structures will be built on government plots, which will be assigned to the 64 house owners and business license holders who lost their properties in the fire.

The temporary structures have been granted as Kidu by His Majesty so that the people affected are enabled to engage in immediate economic activities. The structures will be assigned to the people until such time the economic activity moves to the new township in Dekiling.The structures will be built on an overall plan that has been designed to retain the aesthetics of Bumthang. It has been prepared by the Reconstruction Committee comprising of all government and private stakeholders and decided through a series of consultative meetings.The Dzongkhag administration will implement the reconstruction plan while the RBA personnel will assist in providing the manpower.The affected families expressed gratitude to His Majesty the King for staying in Bumthang and personally overseeing the rehabilitation works at the earliest.

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Fund Raising for the fire victims of Bumthang

November 8: Conveying a message of solidarity, the Bhutanese film fraternity, Motion Pictures Association of Bhutan (MPAB) staged a fund raising entertainment event at the clock tower square today. The fund is being raised for the fire victims of Bumthang. Hundreds of people gathered at the clock tower square to witness live some of the famous faces they saw and heard on the big screen.Some of the famous movie actors, actresses, comedians and singers performed entertainment programmes for a cause, for the victims of Bumthang fire. Through live musical performances, they were raising funds for His Majesty’s Relief Fund.

The MPAB expressed that the grief felt by the people of Bumthang town is a grief felt by the country and the help through cash and kinds that other people rendered for the cause stands as a testimony for it. As the show continued it only drew in more crowd. Every people who came to watch the show made whatever little contributions they could.“The amount of donation is not important but the fact that people unite during such times is what is more important,” said Sherub Gyeltshen, the General Secretary of MPAB.He added that it was a privilege for the Association to be able to contribute to the cause through what they were good at. After the show, the members of the association divided themselves in groups and went knocking from shop to shop asking for donations.

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Nyamro Chugchi lift trophy in Pemagatshel
7 November 2010: Beer bottles instead of dars on captions of the two finalist teams who failed to hit any kareys Nyamro Chugchi, a team from Nanong Gewog, won the inaugural Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley archery tournament on the traditional bow orga¬nized by the archery organiz¬ing committee of Pemagatshel sports association. They took home a cash prize of Nu 50,000.In an entertaining but one-sided final match played on November 1, coinciding with the coronation of His Majesty the King, Nyamro Chugchi outclassed the other finalist, Dungchu Sonam Phuntsho Deki team, by four games to one in 21 rounds. The runners-up team received Nu 30,000 in cash.“Nyamro Chugchi deserved to be in the final and was ex¬pected to win the tournament. Their quality was evident right from the first match,” said Kinga, a member of an¬other participating team.Players from Nyamro Chugchi also won all but one individual prizes that are up for grabs. Tshering Dorji won Nu 4,000 for one day highest hit. His team-mate, Cheda, won Nu 2,000 for highest dob¬ji and the man of the match in the final went to Choijang, all from Nyamro Chugchi. The lone individual winner from outside the Nyamro Chugchi team was Chogyal of Gonpung United, who won Nu 2,000 for highest hit on the bull’s eye.

The final was witnessed by a large crowd. Regular specta¬tors say that the tournament on the traditional bow attract¬ed more crowd compared to the tournament on imported equipment.“I always enjoy watching archery match on traditional bows and arrows. It reminds me of the good old days, but these days, we are seeing few tournaments on the tradi¬tional bow,” said Tashi Norbu, a man in his late fifties.
He, however, said that, even traditional archery matches had undergone some funda¬mental changes in his lifetime. The bamboo bow had evolved from a one-piece changzhu to two-piece tabzhu to today’s separate wooden handle and two bamboo limbs. Similarly, the feathers on the arrows are being replaced by plastic fletching. The jute strings are replaced by strong and du¬rable factory-made strings.
“The dances too have evolved in the same period, from robust athletic dances to slow and stage-like perfor¬mances,” said Tashi Norbu.
Dorji Wangchuk, the ar¬chery secretary, said that the organizers intend to make it an annual event.
The health minister, Ly¬onpo Zangley Dukpa, who was in the dzongkhag, gave away the prizes to the winners.

Source: Bhutan Observer   www.bhutanvisitors.com

His Majesty meets students of Chumey Middle Secondary School.
November 6: His Majesty the King met with the students of Chumey Middle Secondary School this morning. Stressing the need to inculcate the habit of reading, His Majesty said that there is so much knowledge and information in this age and it is up to them to find out and use it properly.

His Majesty said that while there is much to learn from the classroom, there is much more to learn from the outside world.

To build up ‘confidence and participation’, His Majesty interacted with the students in an informal and cordial way, asking questions about their ambitions and worries.

Some of the students said that they were worried about their employment after completing their studies, while some said that they were worried whether they would be able to fulfill the wishes of their parents.

Later in the afternoon, His Majesty visited Chudrak Goenpa and Tharpaling Shedra and offered prayers and Nyendhars.  His Majesty the King is in Bumthang to personally oversee the reconstruction of the town and spend time with the people.

Source:Kuensel

Bhutan Tour Package for 2011
5th November: Bhutan Travel Agents and Bhutan Tour Operators offer wide range of Bhutan Tour Package on
1.      Bhutan Festival Tours
2.      Bhutan Cultural Tours
3.      Bhutan Trekking and adventure Tours
4.      Bhutan Honeymoon Tours
5.      Bhutan Family Tours
6.      Bhutan Business Tours
7.      Bhutan Luxury Tours
8.      Bhutan Photography and filming Tours
9.      Bhutan Biking and River Rafting Tours
10.    Bhutan Bird Watching Tours
11.    Bhutan Pilgrim and History Tours
12.    Bhutan Fishing and Botanical Tours
13.    Bhutan Walking and Day hiking Tours
14.    Western Bhutan Tour, Central Bhutan Tour, Eastern Bhutan Tour, Southern Bhutan Tour, Northern Bhutan Tour
15.    Nomadic Tours

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The plan for winter session of parliament
Winter Session 5 November, 2010 - The winter session of parliament, to begin on November 19, will deliberate on three new bills: childcare and protection bill, the consumer protection bill and Bhutan institute of medical sciences bill.

While the national assembly will deliberate on the childcare and protection bill, the house of review, the national council, will take up the other two bills.
In the sixth session, the national assembly will also re-deliberate the water bill, the financial services bill and the income tax amendment bill, which was passed and referred to national council during the last session.The national council, during the fifth session, had discussed and adopted amendments of the penal code of Bhutan, anti corruption bill, and civil and criminal procedure code of Bhutan, which was then referred to the national assembly. The assembly will discuss the bills this session.Meanwhile, the government has also proposed amendments of sales tax, customs and excise act, public finance act and the land act. The amendment proposal for the sales tax, customs and excise act surfaces at a time when it is at the centre of the court proceedings underway between the opposition party and the government.Speaker Jigme Tshultim said a motion to amend the provisions of the act was already agreed to in the fifth session of parliament in July. “The act was already under the legislative process of amendment and shouldn’t have gone to the court,” he said. As a follow up to the fifth session, the government will report on pay revision of civil servants, zhabto laymi and the constitutional development fund. The national assembly will also report on consultative meetings its members had with the local government. National assembly also proposed the amendment of the election act for the session. The parliament will also deliberate on drayangs and discotheques and related social problems, a petition submitted by people of Paro.“We received eight petitions for possible discussion but, during the pre-agenda meeting, members of the national assembly decided on one petition,” said the speaker. “Others have been referred to ministries concerned for action.”Meanwhile, the civil service bill, deliberated during the last sessions, is awaiting His Majesty’s assent.The 16 “working day” session will end on December 10.

Source: Kuenselonline, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

New Trek Route for Merak – Sakteng Trek(eastern Bhutan) – Yeti Trail
November 4: This special cultural and nature trek of an isolated Merak & Sakteng recently opened in 2009. Until now a handful of tourists and researchers were permitted to this area with special permissions. This area was closed to protect the unique cultural heritage of this Brokpa people and in part to give the mythical Yeti some peace, whose tales of wandering in the valley is very popular among the natives. The Brokpas (highlanders) population of Merak and Sakten are semi-nomadic yak herder, who speak different dialect and wear a completely different outfit from other Bhutanese.

The five-day trek visits Sakteng and the seven-day trek visits both Merak and Sakteng valleys. Along with Nabji Korphu trek, this is one of the first community based tourism in Bhutan.
Trip Facts
Trek Duration: 5 or 7 days
Total Duration: 17 or 19 days
Difficulty: Moderate.
Trip Accommodation
In hotels during the touring portion and in tent camps during the trek. Please note that the accommodation in Trashigang and Samdrup Jogkhar are bit rudimentary.
Seasons
Best from late March till early May and from late September till end of October.
Departure Dates
Private Journeys for independent travel with your own dates.
Tour Costs
From US$ 200 per night per person.
Request cost based on the number of travellers
Included:
* Bhutan royalties, Visa, taxes and permits.
* All transfers and transportation by good quality private vehicle.
* English Speaking Guide through-out.
* Accommodation in standard tourist hotels during tours and in tent camps during the trek.
* All meals, including evening tea.
* During the trek: fully organized trek with Tents, Thermal Pads, Blow pillow, Hot-water bag, Pack animals/porters to carry luggage. Basic Medical Kit, Cook and assistants. Beverages such as juices, tea, some alcoholic spirits are also provided during the trek.
Not Included:
*Flights in and out of Bhutan. Flight booking will be done by us. For latest fares, check our website.
* Travel/Medical Insurance – optional
* Personal trekking gears such as sleeping bag, clothing, shoes etc.
* Personal expenses such as Tips and gratuities (optional), bar/beverages, laundry, telephone and others not listed in the included section.

www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Bringing back smiles and laughter
November 3: As per the wish of His Majesty the King, the Motion Pictures Association of Bhutan, assembled a team of popular artistes to entertain and uplift the spirit of residents of Chamkhar town.They have come all the way to Bumthang, to bring back the lost smiles and laughter on the faces of Chamkhar residents. And they are exactly doing that. It was also His Majesty’s hope that they forget the traumatic fire incident on October 26.

More than 3,000 people had gathered last evening at the Ugyen Wangchuck stadium in Chamkhar, Bumthang to see live the popular actors and singers on stage. The whole stadium was brought back into life as the crowd cheered for their favourite stars.The residents, including the affected fire victims sang along with Jigme Dukpa’s Bumthap song and burst into laughter when popular comedians like Phurba Thinley and Jalab Leki cracked jokes and mimicked popular singers and actors.According to the Royal Office for Media, it was His Majesty’s desire that despite the tragedy popular comedians and singers in the country would bring back all those lost smiles and laughter on the faces of the residents. The makeshift hall was filled with laughter and applause as the well-known singers like Rinchen Namgay, Namgay Jigs, Namkha Lhamo, Lhamo Dukpa, Nidup Dorji and Kheng Sonam sang their popular numbers.

For a moment they forgot their worries and uncertainties of their lives and future. With the presence of His Majesty the King among the people, the ambience was extraordinary, one of care and fraternity amidst laughter and applause.The team led by the general secretary said that it was a great privilege to rally behind His Majesty the King as the nation came together to rebuild their lives.His Majesty had said that the Bhutanese sense of community and fraternity continue to strengthen our Bhutanese character particularly during such times, and further expressed the need to enforce these values at all times.The show by these singers and artistes was one such solidarity that can bring people together even during worst times.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Books launched to commemorate the Coronation
November 2: Coinciding with the 2nd anniversary of the Coronation of His Majesty the King, the Ministry of Education on behalf of National Steering Committee for Coronation Celebration launched two books titled, "Moments in time" and "Our King is Crowned". The books were launched by Her Royal Highness the Princess Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck yesterday.

The "Moments in time" covers the pictorial biography of His Majesty the King. The other book, "Our King is Crowned" captures the journey from Lingkana till Punakha, actual crowning ceremony and the celebration at Changlimithang.Addressing the gathering, Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck said the day is an opportunity for the young and old alike to reflect on our past, to celebrate our present and look confidently to our future.“As a child I saw in His Majesty all the qualities that would make a great and a genuine leader,” said Her Royal Highness. His Majesty, Her Royal Highness said holds a pure and compassionate heart with the patience, wisdom and maturity beyond his years. Also at the function, students from various schools in Thimphu spoke on the importance of the day. They highlighted on the uniqueness of Bhutan’s Monarchy. As a tribute to His Majesty, various cultural programmes were staged by the students. The Ministry of Education also displayed a short video clip to felicitate the Coronation celebration.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

His Majest marks the 2nd Coronation anniversary with the affected families
November 1: His Majesty the King marked the 2nd Coronation anniversary with the affected families and members of the relief team in Bumthang today.
Granting Tokha in purely traditional Bumthap style like Puta and Milk, His Majesty sat with them informally to boost the morale and hopes of the affected families.
His Majesty comforted them that He will personally oversee the relief works, which is currently underway.
Speaking to the soldiers and students of the Chumey Institute of Civil Engineering, His Majesty said that they had come together before to help the people when the unexpected natural disasters struck and they must come together in future also.His Majesty said that he is proud and happy that they have kept alive the Bhutanese tradition of helping each other in times of need.
Meanwhile, on the Royal Command, the Motion Pictures Association of Bhutan has mobilised popular Bhutanese singers and comedians to entertain the people. His Majesty hopes that the singers and artistes will bring some smiles on the faces of these people who have lost everything in the fire.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

His Majesty meets the affected families

October 31: His Majesty the King met with the families of those affected by the disastrous fire in Chamkhar town. His Majesty the King said that he was deeply worried when he heard the news while in Delhi in India. His Majesty expressed his sadness on the tragic loss of two lives and concern for the people who were left homeless and emotionally distressed.However, His Majesty said that during such times of calamity, the nation came together in support of the bereaved families and expressed their concern and care in many ways.

His Majesty plans to personally oversee the rebuilding process and deliver their homes as soon as possible. In the coming days, he will personally sit with them individually, discuss and assess their needs and work out accordingly. His Majesty said that it is very important for them to resume their businesses as early as possible, so that they can get back to their normal lives.

His Majesty was pleased to note that our sense of community and fraternity continues to strengthen our Bhutanese character particularly during such times, and further expressed the need to reinforce these values at all times.More than 300 soldiers and students and instructors of the Chumey Institute of Civil Engineering have been dispatched to carry out relief works at the site of the fire.

Meeting the affected students separately, His Majesty the King expressed his concerns regarding the immediate need to enable the students to continue their schooling unhindered and the families to start rebuilding their livelihoods.

His Majesty visited the temporary shelters and assured the affected families that he will be stationed in Bumthang and will personally oversee the relief efforts that are currently underway. His Majesty expressed his wish to rebuild their homes and resume their lives as soon as possible.

Later in the evening, with temperatures close to freezing, His Majesty again visited the temporary shelters and met with individual families to assess their living conditions and other facilities built for them.Fifty nine shops and hotels were razed to the ground on October 26 morning. It is one of the worst fire disasters in the country.

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Observing the Descending Day of Lord Buddha in Bhutan.
October 29: Today is the descending day of the Lord Buddha. History says that Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal, and his mother expired after 7 days. Therefore 6 years after attaining enlightenment at the age of 41, he ascended to heaven on the 15th day of the 6th month of the lunar calender to preach to his mother.
When he was preaching his mother along with gods and goddesses in heaven, people on earth were worried because they did not know where Buddha was. Then, Buddha’s disciple, the clairvoyant Sharibu, had a vision of the lord to be in heaven.
Following the request of all the devotees, another disciple of Lord Buddha, Mao gyel ge bu, who was known to possess miraculous powers, ascended to heaven on the 15th day of the ninth month of the lunar calender and requested Buddha to return to earth.
Lord Buddha descended to earth on the 22nd day of the 9th month. The descending day of Lord Buddha is a celebration of his return to earth from heaven.Almost all Bhutanese find a way to break away from normal life and dedicate to spiritual practices on Lhabab Duechen day. Monastries, dzongs and dratshangs around the country are flooded with devotees. The monastic communities pray and perform different kinds of rituals. The local with their family visit the temples and monasteries to offer food, prayers, butter lamps, host new prayer flags.

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Drukair launches its flight to Guwahati(India).
October 28: Drukair, the national flag carrier, will now fly to Guwahati with the launching of its maiden flight yesterday. This is expected to bring in more Indian tourists to the country. The 35 to 50 minutes duration flight from Paro to Guwahati will fly over the Dobji Dzong and Chapcha in Chhukha Dzongkhag.20 minutes after being airborne, one could see the Brahamaputra River in India.

The flight timing can differ depending on the weather.Speaking to Indian journalists the Director General of Tourism Council of Bhutan, Kezang Wangdi, said Bhutan was ready for the tourists from Assam and North East India.

Meanwhile, for the people of Guwahati it was a dream come true as their airport has been upgraded to international status.The regular operation will begin from 31st of this month. On Sundays and Wednesdays it will fly from Paro to Bangkok via Guwahati and the incoming flights will operate on Thursdays and Mondays.
The fare is Nu. 3,000 from Paro to Guwahati and Nu. 6,000 from Guwahati till Bangkok.Druk Air has also plans to launch flights to Singapore, Hongkong, and Mumbai.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo meets with the victims of Bumthang fire
October 27: His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo today met with the victims of Bumthang fire. Fifty nine houses including hotels and shops of Chamkhar town were razed to the ground in one of the worst major fire disasters in the country in the early hours of yesterday morning. His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo is accompanied by Their Majesties the Queen Mothers Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck and Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. Speaking to the affected families, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo said that His Majesty the King will provide free timbers, relief funds and CGI sheets.

His Majesty told the people that if new houses are constructed in the Chamkhar town, it will be problematic and inconvenient for the people if they have to shift to the new Dekiling town next year. His Majesty asked the people to discuss the matter with the Minister of Works and Human Settlement, who is also in Bumthang. To this, the Chhoekhor Gup on behalf of the people submitted that it may take about three years for the people to construct houses in the new town. His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and Their Majesties the Queen Mothers granted semso to the affected families. Some of the affected families that BBS spoke to said His Majesty’s words of condolence gave them the strength to bear their grief.

His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and Their Majesties the Queen Mothers visited the Chamkhar town and interacted with the public. Two hundred sixty seven people were affected by the fire. The victims are living in a temporary shelter at the vegetable market at the moment.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

The worst major fire disasters in Bumthang,central Bhutan.
October 26: (Fire Update) In one of the worst major fire disasters in the country, almost half the Chamkhar town in Bumthang has been completely razed to the ground by a fire at around 1.45 am today. The fire is said to have started from a mobile shop.According to the latest figures from the Dzongkhag officials 59 shops including hotels in the Chamkhar town were burnt to ashes by the fire. A 25-year-old man has been killed in the mishap and one is still missing.

The Bumthang Dzongda, Sangay Thinley, said the cause of the fire was due to the short circuit of an electric cable. The Dzongkhag officials, Gyalpoi Zimpon officials, students, monks and public and fire fighters battled the fire for almost four hours. It was brought under control at around 5 am.
Some of the eye witnessess said the fire started from nowhere and within a short period of time, it spread to other nearby shops. Most of the occupants have lost all their belongings.The Officiating Chamkhar town Thuemi told BBS that only few occupants could save some of their belongings.Other than shops and houses, one DCM truck, an Alto car and one scooter were burnt by the fire.The Gyalpoi Zimpon office in Bumthang and dzongkhag office have provided temporary shelter at Ugyen Wangchuck stadium. Meals are also being provided.As of now, the insurance officials have come up with close to Nu. 2 million in compensation under the fire insurance. Reports on damages and casualties are still being compiled.

This is the second major fire disaster in Bumthang in recent times. The first one was in 2005.On the command of His Majesty the King, the office for the Gyalpoi Zimpoen in Bumthang has delivered immediate relief materials to the victims of fire in Chamkhar Town in Bumthang today.His Majesty the King, who is currently in India, also issued the royal command to deploy the Royal Bhutan Army to assist in the immediate relief and recovery works.Meanwhile His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo has reached Bumthang.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Digitalising Buddhist religious texts
October 25: The National Library and Archives of Bhutan is in the process of digitalising all the Buddhist religious texts. Over 9,800 volumes of Buddhist religious texts, some as old 70 years, are available online now both in Dzongkha and English. However, currently only the cover titles, subtitles, authors, margin titles can be viewed online.The basic information on six different kinds of religious texts-Nyingma, Kagyu, Geylug, Sacha Bon and Sanskrit-- that are available in the Library can now be accessible through their website, www.library.gov.bt.

The project which started in 1996 to digitalise the text is aimed to give access to various researchers and scholars on the available texts at the Library. Readers can get the basic information from the website and can visit the Library to get the full version of the texts.“The very reason to come up with such a system is to give more information to the readers. They need not visit the Library for information,” said the Librarian, Yeshi Lhendu.However, some of the secret texts will not be made available. This, the Librarian said is to preserve the texts.The project was initiated by the National Library and Archives of Bhutan with support from Danida Twinning Project in collaboration with Royal Library of Denmark.Officials from the Library also said that entire contents of some of the books will also be made available online soon.Currently, there are over 12,000 volumes of texts in the Library.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Her Majesty the Queen Mother of Bhutan in Belgium
October 23: Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck visited Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday. Her Majesty was received at the Brussels airport by Ambassador Sonam Tobden Rabgye and officials of the Royal Bhutanese Embassy.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother was received by Her Majesty Queen Paola of Belgium and Her Royal Highness Princess Claire at the Royal Castle in Laeken. Her Majesty Queen Paola visited Bhutan in November 2009. It is the first Royal Visit from Bhutan to Belgium following the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2009.Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is the Patron of the Tarayana Foundation and in that capacity is also briefly visiting France, Italy and Sweden.The Tarayana Foundation was established in 2003 and is dedicated to supporting people facing socio-economic difficulties particularly in the rural areas.The Royal visit is expected to expose a select group of institutions and individuals in Europe to the workings of the Tarayana Foundation, share experiences and lead to a series of initiatives and projects that would directly contribute and benefit the village communities in rural Bhutan.
Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Four Indian tourists killed in accident
October 23: Four Indian tourists including a woman died in an accident yesterday. The TATA Indica car they were travelling in went off the road about 200 metres below the road. The accident occurred in between Jumja and Ganglakha, around 39 kilometres away from Phuentsholing, at around 7.30pm. They were on their way to Phuentsholing from Thimphu.The lone survivor is being treated at the Gedu Hospital. The survivor said the accident occurred due to foggy weather.The Royal Bhutan Police and the Regional Office of the His Majesty's Representative in Phuentsholing handed over the body to the Indian Consulate General Office in Phuentsholing.Meanwhile a 22-year-old man died when his Bolero car collided head on with a Truck in Gedu yesterday. The driver was admitted in Gedu hospital and died after an hour. The accident took place near Bhutan Oil Distributor in Gedu.
Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

'The Condom Man' wins ABU prize
October 22: A BBS TV programme ‘The Condom Man’ has been awarded the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) HIV/AIDS award.
The prize is awarded by the ABU for the best TV programme on HIV/AIDS.It was awarded at the 47th ABU general assembly which was held from 14th to 20th October in Tokyo, Japan.Produced by Thinley Yeshey, the programme features a health official who goes around the capital Thimphu, visiting vulnerable groups, educating them on HIV/AIDS and teaching people how to properly use condoms.

Over time the man, Tshewang Ngedup, has come to be known as the condom man. During the day, he works as an administrative officer with the Royal Institute of Health Sciences. On weekends and after office hours, he drives around in a van, talking to people and distributing condoms and pamphlets on HIV/AIDS.The award comes with a trophy, a certificate, and a cash prize of US$ 1500.
Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

His Majesty the King of Bhutan meets Indian Prime Minister
October 21: His Majesty the King met with Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, at his residence in Race Course Road yesterday. The two leaders discussed a whole array of bilateral issues aimed at ensuring that the profound bond between the two countries.The Prime Minister also hosted lunch for His Majesty the King and the Bhutanese delegation.In the afternoon, His Majesty the King granted separate audiences to the foreign Secretary of India, Mrs. Nirupama Rao, Minister of External Affairs S.M Krishna and Minister of Finance Pranab Mukerjee.His Majesty the King graced the golden jubilee anniversary celebration of the National Defence College as the Guest of Honour today.

His Majesty the King is on a 9-day visit to India and accompanied by His Royal Highness the Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, Her Royal Highness Princess Kezang Choden Wangchuck and Home Minister Lyonpo Minjur Dorji.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Bhutan Art and Craft Festival- exclusively Bhutanese
October 20: When we talk of Centenary Farmers' Market, all we think of is vegetables and fruits. But from now on one can also buy handicrafts from the market. The Department of Cottage and Small Industry under the Ministry of Economic Affairs has started a ‘temporary craft town’ in the capital yesterday.

Dapa, bangchungs, zaarus, hand-woven Kiras and many other items can be bought from the Centenary Farmers' Market in Thimphu. These products are made exclusively in Bhutan. It will be on display till December but open only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.“Craft bazaar is helpful for us as it differentiates our Bhutanese products from the other products in the market,” said Rinchen, a craftsman from Thimphu.Some of the craftsmen from other Dzongkhags said that it provides a good opportunity to showcase their local produce.“Although we have suitable place to make our products we do not have proper market. This exhibition provides us very place to market our products,” said Tashi, a salesman from Trashiyangtse.Seventeen stalls filled with handicraft products from across the country have been set up.

According to the Secretary of the economic affairs ministry, Dasho Sonam Tshering, who opened the craft bazaar, now Bhutanese have a ready market in Bhutan and it is basically the promotion of local cottage industry.If successful, a permanent craft town will be established.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Bhutan Prime Minister at the closing of The Dragon’s Gift exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland
October 19: Offering an unparalleled glimpse at Bhutan's rich and sacred repository of religious artifacts, ‘The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan’ exhibition, came to an end on Sunday in Zurich, Switzerland.The exhibition, which was showcased in six cities, saw close to 300,000 visitors.The Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, who was the guest of honor at the closing ceremony, said that this exhibition bears special significance for Bhutan in terms of collaboration to promote and strengthen the preservation of Bhutan’s artifacts.

Close to 300 people including art lovers and experts, friends of Bhutan, leaders and officials of the city of Zurich and many Bhutanese gathered at the exhibition room for the demolition of the Sand Mandala and Tashi Moenlam during the closing ceremony.The exhibition had been prepared and organised by the Honolulu Academy of Arts in Hawaii in co-operation with the royal government of Bhutan and the Central Monastic Body.

In Denmark, the Prime Minister received a private audience with Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark accompanied by the minister for climate and energy and minister for gender equality. According to the press release they discussed possibilities of continuing DANIDA assistance to Bhutan beyond 2015.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Dechenphug Festival in Thimphu,Bhutan
October 18: The annual Dechenphug Tshechu was observed yesterday co-inciding with the 10th day of the ninth month of the Bhutanese calendar. The Tshechu is dedicated to Gay Ngyen Jakpa Melen, a local deity.Hundreds of people gathered at Dechenphu Lhakhang to witness the annual Dechenphu Tshechu. Some of the sacred dances include Zhana-nga Cham, Genyen Kunchaam, Shazam Cham, and Nga chaam.

Various cultural programmes were performed by the dancers of the Royal Academy of Performing Arts.The Tshechu was first introduced in 2003 under the command of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.Cabinet Ministers and other Senior Government officials attended the Tshecu.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Hindu Festival in Bhutan
October 18: Durga puja or the festival to worship Hindu goddess Durga ended yesterday. The theme for the Puja this year is “Peace and Happiness through Spiritual Growth and Development”.

The festival is conducted annually in the capital by the Durga Puja Organising committee. The officiating Prime Minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, other cabinet ministers and secretaries also attended the concluding ceremony.

Durga Puja symbolises the victory of good over evil.During the nine-day Puja, sacred religious texts were recited, and prayers offered to seek blessings for good health and long life of His Majesty the King, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the people of Bhutan.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality inaugurated

October 16: Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck inaugurated the Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality in the capital, yesterday. It will be the first institute for tourism and hospitality management on international level in Bhutan.Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Her Majesty the Queen mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck said the establishment of the Institute will play a vital role in providing the much needed training in tourism sector.

Her Majesty said, the institute will enhance skills of the youth and will further improve the country’s economy.The Managing director of Austrian Development Assistance said the Institute will provide a milestone in successful development cooperation between Bhutan and Austria.The institute located on 36 acres in upper Motithang is equipped with high-tech power house, solar technology, equipped with modern kitchen and laundry facilitates, class rooms, IT rooms, Library, hostels, and offices for the faculty and administration.The Institute will initially offer a diploma programme in tourism and Hotel management, which would be up graded to a higher degree offering institute with a vision of becoming the regional centre of excellence.

The institute was constructed at the cost of Nu. 480 million with financial support from the Government of Austria and the Royal Government of Bhutan.
The first academic programme of the institute began since August 2010. At present the institute has 50 students.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Prime Minister of Bhutan speaks on Gross National Happiness at Magadh University,India.
September 29: The Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, spoke to a packed hall of university students, faculty and members of the Sanga at Magadh University in Bodhgaya yesterday. Magadh University, the largest university in Bihar, had requested the Prime Minister to speak on Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH).Lyonchhoen spoke on the significance of balancing spiritual and material growth and spoke at length on the four pillars of GNH, its domains and the variables.

He informed the gathering of more than 300 people that Bhutan realised that the economic model of Gross Domestic Product was just not sustainable. “It was a self destructive process where in the end, human greed would consume the world.”The Prime Minister said that Bhutan was not satisfied with the various economic models and therefore, His Majesty the Fourth King came up with the holistic concept of GNH.

Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley also accepted the vice chancellor of the university, Mr Arvind Kumar’s request to sponsor a professor as the Gautam Buddha Chair for the faculty of Buddhist studies and philosophy. Lyonchhoen will also provide a grant to the University for purchase of books for deprived students and talented research scholars.Lyonchhoen also visited the ancient Nalanda University site, the Shanti Stupa and Japanese temple in Rajgir, where the Prime Minister was greeted by young school children.Lyonchhoen arrived in Varanasi yesterday and visited the Sarnath temple, where he spoke to the students of the Mahabodhi Society School and several devotees.The Prime Minister, as the president of the Mahabodhi Society also inaugurated an eternal lamp build by more than 100 devotees from Sri Lanka.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Bhutan to build a temple and guest house in Rajgir,India.
September 27: Meeting with the Chief Minister of Bihar, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley requested the Bihar government to give a plot of land in Rajgir, about 3 acres, to build a temple, an area for meditation and a rest house for Bhutanese. The Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar expressed an assurance and said that they have already asked designated officials to identify the land.Lyonchhoen informed the Chief Minister that the number of Bhutanese visiting the holy destination through annual pilgrimage is increasing by around 20 percent annually. He said that thousands of Bhutanese visit Rajgir to take a dip in the hot spring.

“Bihar is an important place, in the spiritual point of view, not just for Bhutanese people but for a growing number of Buddhist people all over the world,” Lyonchhoen said, adding that he appreciates the way in which the Chief Minister has provided patronage and support for the rich cultural heritage.Congratulating Lyonchhoen on becoming the president of the Mahabodhi Society of India, the Chief Minister also asked Lyonchhoen to appoint a designated Bhutanese person to look into the matter.During their meeting, Lyonchhoen urged the Chief Minister to work together with the Mahabodhi society to make Bodhgaya and its rich cultural heritage accessible to everyone. “We must be more active and make teachings of dharma more accessible to people by not being evangelical and unethical,” Lyonchhoen said.

The Chief Minister said that the though Bodhgaya is well connected through the train routes, the domestic flights services will also increase alongside the expansion of the runway. “A new airport will also come up in due course of time,” he said.The two leaders also discussed to establish additional flights to Bodhgaya and increase the frequency of these flights.“We are very grateful for the support and care that Bihar government has provided not just to the Bhutanese but also those from all over the country,” Lyonchhoen said.

Source: BBS, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

World Tourism Day in Bhutan-27th September 2010.

Lead Organiser: Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO)
Partner Associations:
1. Hotels Association of Bhutan (HAB)
2. Guides Association of Bhutan (GAB)
3. Handicrafts Association of Bhutan (HaAB)
Technical Assistance:
1. Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB)
2. Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF)
Backdrop
As per the decision of the 2nd Tourism Council meeting, Chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister, the World Tourism Day on 27th September 2010 should be celebrated on a much bigger scale in order to advocate more awareness and reach. This is to be jointly organised by the tourism stakeholders in the private sector with ABTO taking the lead in organizing the event.
World Tourism Day is an international event, celebrated annually on 27th September, with the intention of creating awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its environment, cultural, economic, political and social values.
During the 3rd session of World Tourism Organization’s (WTO) General Assembly at Torremolinos, Spain, September 1979, it was determined to institute WORLD TOURISM DAY to be renowned on 27th September every year with the inauguration in the year 1980. This date was selected to agree with a significant milestone in the World Tourism: anniversary of espousal of WTO Statues on the 27th September 1970. 

The UNWTO believes that the date for World Tourism Day is appropriate because it comes at the end of the high tourist season in the northern hemisphere and the start of the tourist season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is of topical interest to many people worldwide, particularly travelers and those working in the tourism sector.
Each year, the event seeks to address global challenges outlined by the United Nations and to highlight the contribution that the tourism industry can make in reaching these goals. Each year has a different theme and this year the theme is “Tourism & Biodiversity”.
Objective
This year’s theme provides an opportunity to create awareness of the importance of Biodiversity to Tourism and the role of sustainable tourism in the conservation of all forms of life in our ecosystem. It also gives us an opportunity to showcase that tourism activities need not necessarily threaten other species of life but rather complement their existence as the tourism activities depends on them.
Biodiversity is a key tourism asset and fundamental to its sustained growth. Intact and healthy ecosystems form the cornerstone of thousands of tourist enterprises and products worldwide, attracting hundreds of millions of tourists each year. As a leading economic activity, sustainable tourism has an important role and responsibility in managing and conserving biological natural resources. As a key source of income and employment, tourism often provides strong incentives to protect biodiversity. Sustainable tourism can furthermore generate significant revenues for conservation and community development and help to raise awareness of biodiversity issues.
It is necessary to foment the development of environmentally friendly local micro-enterprises and infrastructure for equitable use of these areas, which includes the local population that is otherwise excluded from the benefits generated by ‘all-inclusive’ tourism.
This Tourism and Biodiversity theme is particularly pertinent in 2010. Concerned by the continued loss of biological diversity, the United Nations Assembly declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. The year coincides with the target adopted by governments in 2002, to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss.
Hence, ABTO together with our partner associations viz. Hotel Association, Guide Association and Handicraft Association will be organising this international event here in Thimphu. Our effort will be further collaborated in terms of technical assistance by Tourism Council of Bhutan, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests (and relevant department and divisions such as Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division, Nature Conservation Division, National Biodiversity Centre and Parks), Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and relevant organisations and agencies.
Besides creating awareness on tourism activities and its dependence on biodiversity, it is also our objective to educate all on Royal Government’s tourism policy, current tourism trends, opportunity in tourism industry, rules and procedures and courses offered by the tourism and hospitality training institutes.
Tentative Programme for the World Tourism Day – 27th September
Opening Ceremony
0930 – Arrival of Guest
0945 – Arrival of Hon’ble Chief Guest
0950 – Marchang
1000 – Welcome by President, ABTO/ Chairman of Committee of Tourism Associations (CTA); On behalf of ABTO, Hotel Association, Guides Association and Handicrafts Association)
1010 – Address by Hon’ble Chief Guest
1030 – Vote of Thanks
1040 – Unveiling of the Event and tour of the Booths
1115 – Refreshment
Closing Ceremony
1730 – Arrival of Guest
1745 – Arrival of Hon’ble Chief Guest
1750 – Closing Address
1800 – Broadcast of UNWTO – Secretary General’s Message
1810 – Award of Prizes and Certificates by Hon’ble Chief Guest
1845 – Vote of Thanks
1855 -
• Short Video Presentations
- Tourism by CTA
- Druk Air
- TCB Video Presentation
• Cultural Programme Presentation
• Refreshment

By: ABTO, www.bhutanvisitors.com or www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Sonam Choden Retty is the new Miss Bhutan for 2010.


September 26: It was a night of entertainment, prestige and glamour all rolled up into one. The 2nd annual Miss Bhutan beauty pageant had it all. Sonam Choden Retty was crowned Miss Bhutan 2010 at a contest held in Thimphu last evening.Kinley Yangden Dorji from Thimphu took the position of the 1st runner up and Tenzin Norden from Haa was the 2nd runner up.The 18 contestants began the evening captivating the audience. The judges were then put to the test as each contestant completed the first three segments; Traditional Dress, Evening Gown and Talent.After the first three rounds, the 18 contestants were shortlisted to five.Prior to introducing the top five some of the contestants were selected for Miss Congeniality and Miss Beautiful Skin, Miss Natural Beauty and Miss Talented among others.

The top finalists were then announced in random order. The final segment of the Question and Answer involved asking each contestant a different question by the panel of judges.Tshokey Tshomo Karchung was the first to hold the Miss Bhutan title in 2008.

By: BBS,www.bhutanvisitors.com and www.travelagentsbhutantour.com

Bhutan New Trekking Route in Merak and Sakteng(Eastern Bhutan).
September 23:Trekking routes have been identified, porter and pony charges have been fixed, chefs and guides have been trained, and showrooms have been built. The people of Merak and Sakteng in Trashigang are all set to welcome the first group of tourists to their villages in October.
Earlier it had been an¬nounced that the first group of tourists would go to the semi-nomadic gewogs in the second week of September, but the construction and renovation of guesthouses in the gewogs could not be completed on time.Now, most things are in place. “We are all set and pre¬pared,” said Sakteng mangmi, Sangay Dorji. “All the villagers are excitedly awaiting the ‘big change’.”The mangmi said everyone was busy working out plans to generate income from the new opportunity. While some were gathering mules for transpor¬tation, others were brushing up their folk songs and dances.Apart from folk songs and dances, the people of the ge¬wogs are planning to inundate tourists with tshokchhang (feast of alcohol).“We hope that tourism will bring us unprecedented ben¬efits,” said Tshogpa Pema Wangdi ofThrakthri, a village under Sakteng Gewog.More than 50 people, in¬cluding villagers from Merak and Sakteng, have completed chef training. They are ready to cook for tourists from the coming season.Six high school graduates each from the gewogs have received tour guide training. To ensure that the communi¬ties receive maximum ben¬efits, Tourism Corporation of Bhutan Limited (TCBL) has appointed all the guides from Merak and Sakteng.TCBL undertook the train¬ing of chefs and guides.Porter and pony rates have been settled in consultation with the villagers. A pony will fetch Nu 300 a day and porter Nu 150. The pony will be paid half the amount on the return journey.A committee of horse con¬ductors has been formed to ensure a smooth arrangement of ponies. A horse conductor will be paid 10 percent of the pony charge as commission.According to Sakteng ge¬wog office, every village is giv¬en the opportunity to deploy their own ponies. Sakteng gewog administrative officer, Pema Tenzin, said the villages will take turns to engage their horses. Every village under the two gewogs has gathered a group of horses. Everyone owning horses will reap the benefit of tourism.The guesthouse in Sakteng, which is under repair, will become the camp site for tourists. Once repair work is complete, it will be leased out to the community. The money earned from the lease will be used for its maintenance. The gewog has notified that eli¬gible villagers could apply for the lease. In Merak, a guest¬house is under construction.
Tourism has generated interest among the people to open hotels at halt points. One such place is Thrakthri. Pema Wangdi owns a shop in Thrakthri, which he is plan¬ning to develop into a hotel. “I was intrigued with the idea after some officials suggested it to me,” he said. “I think I will go for it since it looks promising.”
A committee has been formed to open a handi¬crafts shop in Sakteng. The handicrafts shop will sell all the traditional dresses like chhupa (men’s dress) and shingkha (women’s skirt-like dress).
The current showroom at the gewog centre will be used as the counter. “The tshogpa or committee will sell all kinds of traditional dresses like chhupa, traditional boots, todung (tego worn by women from Merak and Sak¬teng) and shingkha,” said To¬ethpa Tshogpa from Merak, Sangay Wangchuk. A similar handicrafts tshogpa has also been formed in Merak.
Chaling under Shongphu Gewog is the entry point for tourists going to Merak and Sakteng and Jonkharteng under Sakteng is the exit point. The six-day trek across Merak and Sakteng will start from Chaling and go through Damgojung to Merak. From Merak, the trek will go across Migtsangteng to Sakteng. Down Sakteng, the trek ends at Jonkhar, which is under one hour’s walk from Phong¬may. The people of Chaling will reach tourists to Merak using their own ponies.
The gewogs will perform traditional songs and dances on demand. The dancers have been informed to be available on notice. Ache Lham chham, Aarrpa, and Yak Chham are some of the unique dances of Merak and Sakteng.
By Tempa Wangdi

The Prime Minister of Bhutan proposes Happiness as Ninth MDG

September 22: The Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley proposed for inclusion of Happiness as the Ninth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) at the United Nations General Assembly.Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y. Thinley, who is leading the Bhutanese delegation to the 65th United Nations General Assembly, addressed the High-Level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.The inclusion of the ninth goal, Lyonchhoen said, would confirm that we were concerned with the quality of life and of adding meaning and value to life.While in New York, the Prime Minister also held bilateral meetings with several world leaders and discussed issues of mutual interests.

Source:BBS

Bhutan in Australia
Bhutanese students in Australia hold a cultural event to create awareness on Bhutan as a tourist destination. Rabi C Dahal reports from Perth, Australia
Bhutanese students put up the popular boedra Zambulinglu gangya yoed (The world has everything)
It is 6 am in Bhutan and 8 am in Australia. Some¬thing unusual is happen¬ing in Perth. Some strangely dressed men and women are arranging pictures of majestic monasteries and forts on a stage. Others are putting up a flag with a snarling white dragon. Masks, bags, prayer flags, prayer books, wooden bowls, and many other odd things are on display.
It was Sunday and Bhu¬tanese students in Australia have come together to hold a mini cultural event on Bhutan in Kim Beasley Lecture The¬atre at Murdoch University, Perth.
Some locals throw curious glances at the preparation while others pause and say, “Beautiful dress! Where are you from and what’s happen¬ing here?”
“We have a number of invitees who will arrive in a while,” explains a post¬graduate student. Explaining everything on display, another student extends a warm invi¬tation to visitors in a typical Bhutanese way, “The half-day cultural programme will start in a while. You may attend if you’ve got time.” The visitors accept the invitation.
The guests start flowing in at 9.30 am, 30 minutes ahead of arrival time. Many of them haven’t heard of Bhutan before and are excited to see what the students have to of¬fer them.
A PhD student welcomes the guests, takes them around the display items in the cor¬ridor, and explains each of them. Then, the guests are ushered into the lecture the¬atre where the main event has been arranged.
A soft sound of dramnyen welcomes the guests into the hi-tech theatre. Portraits of the Kings are conspicuously displayed near the podium that is decorated with khadar.
In a while, there are about 200 people seated. Among them are some 60 Bhutanese (students and dependents), dressed in Bhutanese attires.
A dozen of them get up and descended towards the lecture podium. Dressed in in¬tricately woven attires, these students dance on two boedra numbers. Many of them are dancing for the first time in their life, but together they put up an impressive show of flamboyance and grace.
As the group entertains the audience with more Bhuta¬nese dances and music, some of their friends are busy in the corridor tastefully laying out Bhutanese food for the guests. On the menu were suja, desi, shamdrey, phagsha pa, goep pa, emadatshi, hogay, and eggs, among others.
Simon Teoh, an Australian PhD student, conceptualised and organised the event to create awareness on what Bhutan has to offer to tourists.
The aim of the event, he said, was “to create awareness of Bhutan as a tourist des¬tination”. “I hope to capture some data from the audience about their perceptions about Bhutan as a tourist destina¬tion and their understanding of GNH.”
After the show, many members of the audience said Bhutan seemed to be an enchanting country and an exceptional tourist destina¬tion. They said they certainly wished to visit the country once in their lifetime. A few had already made up their mind to fly to Bhutan immedi¬ately, this year.
A 15-minute long movie (Tourism Council of Bhutan’s publicity material) and Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s Travellers and Magicians were screened.
Mike Wood, owner of Peregrine Adventures, who has been sending Austral¬ian tourists to Bhutan since 1978, said, Bhutan did “really make cultural experience.” “Although it is not a cheap destination, it presents a qual¬ity experience, which is worth paying,” he said.
Michelle Hogan, a friend of Bhutan, talked about Respect Educate Nurture Empower Women (RENEW) programme in Bhutan. Dressed in the kira, Michelle also brought many handicraft items from Bhutan for display. She shared her ex¬perience in Bhutan with other Australians.
Julie Barker, a tour opera¬tor, said the group dance con¬nected her to the Bhutanese spirituality. “I liked it more when they sang themselves and danced,” she said. Julie Barker, who has already sent a number of tourists to Bhutan, wishes to visit the country this November. Her group will probably visit Merak and Sakteng.Surprisingly, everybody Bhutan Observer talked to liked the Bhutanese dishes. “They were excellent,” every¬one said, “although suja tasted more like soup than tea”.“The response from the audience was unprecedented and I am sure we were able to impress upon the crowd our rich culture and unique identity,” said Kuenzang, a PhD student.Mike Wood said that Bhutan was very successful in implementing low-volume high-quality tourism policy. He called it a “wise approach” that protects the environment and culture.Bhutanese students said it was a rare for so many Bhutanese to come together. Such an event took place for the first time in Perth. “It feels good to be Bhutanese, espe¬cially in a foreign land,” said one of them.AUS $ 306 was collected from the guests as “gold coin” donation, which will be donat¬ed to Renew Bhutan.
There are about 100 Bhuta¬nese (including dependents) staying in Perth today
http://www.bhutanobserver.bt

On Well being, Happiness & Leadership
World Leaders Forum 17 September, 2010 - Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley kicked off his trip to New York with an address at the World Leaders Forum at Columbia University yesterday to a packed auditorium of students, dignitaries and academics, who gave him a standing ovation.

In his speech on “Wellbeing, Happiness and Leadership,” Lyonchhoen focused mainly on the qualities of leadership that was essential in finding “creative solutions” in an age of shrinking space, diminishing resources and mounting economic, environmental and social challenges for collective survival.
“Our common challenges call for a kind of leadership that has vision. Leaders must be able to rise above ideological, historical and economic fault lines that divide our world.”
According to Lyonchhoen, western societies were in the process of “reinterpreting and recasting its concepts of both the good life and good economy.” This, in turn, was also creating a new consciousness around the world.
“In the years ahead, we in the developing countries will learn much from you, with special interest, as you undertake a reorientation of democratic politics and economic democracy in the direction of a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable way of life.”
A good leader, he pointed out, was someone who possessed three reinforcing qualities: Compassion, Knowledge and Strength, which would enable him/her to provide direction, inspiration and stewardship. It was these qualities, balanced in their composition and application that could transform and propel people/leaders to rise above the ordinary for the good of society. “Separately each of these qualities have little meaning,” he said. “Knowledge and strength are, by themselves, dangerous.”
Human suffering would always be an inseparable part of the human condition. But the power and potential to overcome these were equally present in all of us. The way a leader acts to remove suffering and raise consciousness was the primary yardstick for good leadership, he said.
Lyonchhoen highlighted some of the problems confronting every society today:
- Exploding and ageing populations and the challenge to ensure their wellbeing in societies constrained for time and lack of social support.
- The accelerating rate of loss of biodiversity on both land and water. Leaders, he said, must have knowledge of the higher truth that all life forms are interrelated and that it is the harmony and vitality of our interdependence which will ensure mutual survival.
- Climate Change and wasteful consumption. Learning to live well with less was entirely possible and responsible. Leaders had to pave the path to living well without greed being the determining factor and material possessions being the definition of status and success.
- The relentless growth of the weapons industry, which took away resources from people’s wellbeing and threatening peace and security around the world.
- Unhealthy lifestyles and striving for longer life. The quality of life was not determined by individual circumstances alone, but substantially by the structural conditions of society, which we collectively create.
There was, he said, a need to redefine the purpose of life and meaning of wellbeing so that our pursuits in life and the way we organised society created values in conformity.
In this respect Bhutan believed that the “purpose of development” and the role of the state is to create conditions within which people can pursue and find what they aspire for most in life – happiness.
Gross National Happiness, he said, is “a holistic development paradigm to make society resilient. It motivates an individual and society to consciously balance material wants with spiritual growth wherein the needs of the body and those of the mind are addressed in an equal measure within a stable and sustainable environment.”
The 8 UN Millenium Development Goals, a basic minimum requirement, he said, strives to do this in many countries. However, at the General Assembly next week, it will be disconcerting to note that many countries will still not have realised this.
Bhutan, he said, will be proud to proclaim that, as a result of its GNH policies, these MDG targets have been met way ahead of its deadline 2015. To this end, with some encouragement from Professor Jeffery Sachs, special advisor on the MDG to the UN, Bhutan will propose the inclusion of happiness as the 9th MDG.
The World Leaders Forum is a renowned platform, which was started in 2003 by the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger. It has hosted many speakers like President Clinton, President Putin, and President Sarkozy.
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Thimphu Festival Tour or Thimphu Tsechu  Decorum
This is to inform that we have been asked to remind all tour operators to kindly inform your respective guides/ tourist to follow the dress code while visiting Trashi Chhoedzong for the Thimphu.

Dress code for tourists are as follow: -
•    T-Shirts or full sleeves should be with collar
•    Knee length skirts for women
•    No shorts/half pants/track pants allowed
•    No hats and caps permitted inside the Dzong
We have also been informed that photography will be allowed in the courtyard/ Tendri Thang.
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Open Photo Competition during the World Tourism Day – 27th September
In commemorating the World Tourism Day on 27th September 2010, we have organised an Open Photo Competition the details are as follow: - All interested are kindly requested to take part in it.
World Tourism Day – 27th September
“Photo Competition”
Open photo competition will be organised on the theme “Tourism & Biodiversity” in commemorating the World Tourism Day – 27th September 2010.
Kind of Photos
Pictures should capture the close relationship between biodiversity and tourism. It should also reflect the value of biodiversity for tourism and/or the contribution of tourism in protection and sustainably managing biodiversity.

Prizes
There will be Cash prizes for top 5 photos (1st and 4 runners up).

Specifications

• Photos can be in colour or in black and white and must be submitted electronically to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or drop a soft copy to ABTO office.

• Up to 3 photos may be submitted by each individual participant.

• Photos must be the individual work of the participant and must not have been previously published.

• Photos must be submitted electronically in high jpeg format (minimum 150 pixels/ no more than 3MB)

• All photos should be accompanied by a short description, no more than 25 words.
Use of Photographs

Winning photos will be displayed on the ABTO website. ABTO reserves the right to use submitted photos, without restriction, for display and promotion purposes, and in its printed and online publications and information materials.
Last date of Submission: 24th September 2010 by 5.00 P.M.
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11 Bhutanese to participate in the 8th South Asia Men’s Body Building Championship
Eleven Bhutanese body builders will represent the country during the 8th South Asian (SA) Men’s Body Building Championship. They were selected out of the 19 participants who took part in the selection process.The selection process was conducted today by the Bhutan Body Building and Weight Lifting Federation. The selection was based on the mass of the participants, the current status and potentiality of the participants’ physique.

The participants will now undergo intensive training for about eight months. It will be organised and funded by the Bhutan Body Building and Weight Lifting Federation. The Championship will be hosted in the country sometime in June next year. This is the first for the country to host a regional sporting event.
The Championship is classified into eight weight categories with 55 kilograms as the entry weight.
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Closing in on the target for Bhutan Travel Agents, Bhutan Tour Operators and Tourism Council of Bhutan
The govt. is optimistic; tour operators, less so
Starting this year, the government is expecting to see more than 30,000 tourists visiting Bhutan. This, it says, is the first step towards meeting the target of bringing in a 100,000 tourists by 2012.In an earlier press conference, prime minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley said that, besides others, promoting Bhutan as a service destination also includes a major expansion of the tourism sector.
“We want to expand this sector without compromising our policy of high quality, low impact and not volume tourism,” the prime minister said. “We’re doing quite well. The highest was in 2008 and, this year, we’re definitely going to cross the 30,000 mark, possibly 35,000. And this is our starting year against the target of 100,000 tourists by 2012.”
Tour operators are however not as optimistic as the government in achieving the target, mainly because they still don’t know if the ‘100,000’ figure is only for dollar paying tourists, or if it includes regional tourists.
“There is a confusion in this figure of 100,000,” an ABTO official said. “If it includes regional tourists, it’s definitely an achievable target. But if it’s only dollar paying tourists, there are a lot of things which need to be done.”
An assessment, based on the trend of tourist arrivals in the last five years, said officials from the association of Bhutanese tour operators (ABTO), showed that, by the end of 2012, they would be able to bring in only 60,000 dollar paying tourists.
Until June this year, the number of tourists that visited Bhutan is similar to that of 2008’s half yearly arrivals, when Bhutan saw the highest arrivals so far. “So the most we can expect by the end of this year is about 28,000,” an ABTO official said.
To be able to bring in a 100,000 tourists by 2012, tour operators said all new products and packages needed to be properly promoted at least a year ahead by both the government and tour operators. They said that the western part of Bhutan is already saturated in terms of tourism product. “So we need to do something. Even with 60,000 tourists, you can burden the infrastructure that’s in place badly,” a tour operator said.
The tourism council of Bhutan (TCB) however said that certain measures are being put in place. They said that development of a brand identity and marketing of “destination” has already been done.For “destination marketing” said TCB, a comprehensive and interactive website has been designed. They are also developing circuit and single product brochures. “Merak and Sakteng has been opened to tourists as of September 1 this year as part of the diversification of tourism products,” said TCB.
The government has also identified 250 acres of land in the east, central and south of Bhutan for building resorts and other tourism infrastructures. Request of proposals for foreign direct investments have also been sent and roadside amenities are being developed across the country, for which private investors are encouraged.
“In order to simplify the visa application process, TASHEL online has been launched and implemented,” said a TCB official. “The credit card infrastructure is also being worked on and will be ready by September end, and the negative list will be approved shortly.”
TCB is also planning to start domestic air services by the end of this year, use regional international airports for seamless inbound and outbound connectivity, and conduct a technical study for safe and environment friendly helicopter operations and commence operations as recommended. The government has also finalised the incentive package for upgradation of tourist standard hotels, and 119 hotels across the country have been assessed for star classification.
But then again, tour operators said these initiatives are seen only on paper. Citing an example, they said that, one of the tour operators recently applied for a permit to visit Merak and Sakten. “But he was refused saying that they have received no directives from the top to issue the documents for Merak and Sakten,” a tour operator said. “While those at the policy level may be aware about the opening of Merak and Sakten, those who actually issue the documents aren’t even aware about such decisions.”

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Thimphu Drubchen tomorrow

Government offices, schools and institutions of Thimphu will remain closed tomorrow to observe the annual Thimphu Lhamoi Drubchen. The highlight of the day will be the Lhamoi Tshomi Kunchum. The dance is dedicated to the Pelden Lhamo who is the protecting deity of Bhutan.

Thimphu Lhamoi Drubchen was instituted in between 1705 and 1709 by Je Kinga Gyesthen, the first re-incarnation of Jampel Dorji, the son of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.According to legend, Pelden Lhamo appeared before Je Kinga Gyeltshen while he was meditating and performed the dance.
Meanwhile, the annual Thimphu Tshechu will begin on September 17.
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Despite initial losses, the Buddha airline will continue to expand operations in Bhutan.
Buddha Air 10 September, 2010 - Despite unexpected initial financial losses incurred on its first few flights, Nepal-based Buddha Air is committed to continuing and expanding operations to Bhutan, says the airline.“Buddha air is committed to fly despite these initial losses,” said the airline’s local representative, Kinley Tshering. He added that “even if there are very less passengers, we’ll still fly as a service.” He pointed out that, as this is just one sector of the Nepalese airline, the losses could be tolerated.
Buddha Air, in its six flights operated between the Paro-Kathmandu sector, has carried only 10 paying passengers since operations began on 23 August. With each flight costing the airline about USD 2,500 (Nu 117,000), the airline has been operating to Bhutan on a loss.
As a result Buddha Air cancelled two scheduled flights on September 1 and 3. The airline then informed the department of civil aviation (DCA) that it would cancel more scheduled flights until September 13.“No passenger traffic, no bookings” explained Kinley Tshering on the flight cancellations. But he added, “If there are passengers, flights will be inserted.” DCA earlier told Kuensel that it expects Buddha air to fly chartered flights, if passengers book flights before 13 September. Buddha Air is scheduled to commence commercial flights on 14 September.He said that Buddha Air would operate flights with as little as two passengers. But he pointed out that it would make no commercial sense to operate a flight if there is only one passenger flying from Paro to Kathmandu, as the aircraft would have to fly empty to Paro airport. “We’ll request the passenger to fly on a later scheduled flight.”
Kinley Tshering also pointed out that the recent article by Kuensel on the airline’s losses and suspension of flights between Paro-Kathmandu was causing further losses. “The minute this article came out, passengers booked for flights after the 14th, they got panicky and cancelled their bookings.”
On how Buddha air plans to address the demand deficit, Kinley Tshering said the airline would concentrate on “aggressive marketing strategies.” According to the airline’s local representative, Buddha Air is targeting local business people. “We also want to encourage people to go to Nepal for pilgrimage and holidays.”
Buddha air commenced flight operations on August 23. It is the first foreign airline to operate scheduled commercial air services to Bhutan. It is also the Nepalese airline’s first international destination.

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Organic Farming in Bhutan.
Organic Farming - Its relatively untouched environment and minimal use of chemicals in its farming practices gives Bhutan an edge within the region to become completely organic. The only challenge sitting in the way is the change in people’s mindset.Winner of several awards for her 40 years of works in sectors of relating to environment, agriculture and food, Dr Vandana Shiva, said the mindset of ‘we can’t do farming without chemicals” has to change first. “There’s a particular mindset that’s evolved in agriculture, where most experts believe that, without chemicals, we can’t do farming,” Dr Shiva said. “That paradigm shift will be the biggest challenge.”Since Bhutan had not ruined itself, she said, it has begun polluting its land using fertilisers and pesticides.“I think a dedicated approach of three years should be able to put parts of the Bhutan that uses chemicals on the organic path,” she said.Records with the agriculture ministry’s organic farming program showed that a total of 19,418 acres of land in Bhutan was certified organic. “There are 16 dzongkhags that have shown interest in organic farming,” the program consultant Dr Thimmaiah said in his presentation yesterday on the status of organic farming in Bhutan. In a day long seminar where Dr Shiva and officials from other sectors discussed Bhutan’s opportunities and challenges in its move towards organic farming, Bhutan Dr Thimmaiah said, has 1,045 acres of land that’s intentionally organic. “Organic farming is low cost and it empowers the farmers but it has always received a step-motherly treatment,” Dr Thimmaiah said. “It’s common sense that any plant that’s not eaten by cows and goats have pesticidal qualities.”Linking the move towards organic farming to gross national happiness (GNH), Dr Shiva said growing organic was living GNH. “What GNH is the measurement of reality, organic is the measurement of a really healthy agriculture,” Dr Shiva said. “Bhutan has made that breakthrough and I am very happy that organic farming in Bhutan has begun with the lowering of the cost of production.”Use of pesticides in Bhutan, Dr Thinley from the national plant protection centre said, began since early 60s. “All types of pesticides including those classified as hazardous by the WHO was imported and distributed free, irrespective of whether they were actually required or not,” he said.Coordinator of the national organic program, Kesang Tshomo said traditional farming practices for controlling pests are also dying with use of chemicals.Another challenge Bhutan would face in going organic was garnering farmers’ support. “When chemical fertilisers have to be pushed, extension agents are always there to push it,” she said. “But when an organic transition has to be made, you need an equal presence to be there for the farmers, to teach them the methods and tell them where they went wrong.”Dr Shiva said she had dedicated herself to return with her team to Bhutan to work together and support farmers in terms of training, understanding their problems and taking their knowledge into account.In terms of food security and going organic, Dr Shiva said, Bhutan like any other nations also imported at the cost of its farmers. “It’s destroying the market for its own farmers and denying them their income,” she said. “So I think food security has to begin not by thinking what you can import cheap, but what you must grow and what is the support that the more privileged part of the Bhutanese society can give to its farmers.”Agriculture minister, Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said while initiatives are in place, a need to first understand what organic is was crucial. “Its more than just shying away from chemicals and at this stage, we are still struggling about where we should go organic and in what products,” he said.

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Bhutan’s tobacco ban: A visitor’s perspective
Bhutan has distin¬guished itself inter¬nationally through the 2004 ban on the sale of tobacco. Past difficulties in enforcing the ban have led to the passing of the new To¬bacco Control Bill to provide serious penalties for the sale of tobacco. However, this led to fresh criticism of the ban as unworkable and ineffective. From a public health per¬spective, the tobacco ban is already a success and can only gain in strength and effective¬ness.
While tobacco can still be obtained from shopkeepers by some people, and some smuggle tobacco across Bhutan’s borders, the positive public health impact of the 2004 ban is still obvious.
While there may be tobacco hidden under many shop counters, tobacco control programs in many countries would be envious of Bhutan’s achievement. Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world where people can shop without being exposed to tobacco products on display. Scientific research confirms that the display of cigarette packets creates craving for tobacco in current smok¬ers and recommencement of smoking in ex-smokers. Research has found that point of sale tobacco display creates the impression in children’s minds that tobacco is easy to obtain. Point of sale tobacco promotion is one of the major battlegrounds in tobacco control internationally.
Recent data from the US Trade Commission indicate that US tobacco companies spend about 85% of their promotional budget in the retail setting with $430 mil¬lion being paid to retailers in 2005 just to facilitate the sale or placement of tobacco through stocking, shelving, and displays that assisted the sale of particular brands of cigarettes. There is currently a multimillion dollar cam¬paign funded by the tobacco industry to stall a proposal that cigarettes should only be sold with plain packaging in Australia.
The best indication of the ban’s success may be that, while many other countries in South East Asia have expe¬rienced increasing rates of smoking, Bhutan still has one of the lowest rates of smok¬ing in the world with only about 10% of adults report¬ing that they smoke. There may be under reporting of smoking, however, in the few months that I have been in Bhutan it is obvious how few people smoke in this country compared to other parts of Asia. While there may be strong cultural and religious reasons that also discourage smoking among Bhutanese, the ban must play a strong role in helping Bhutan resist the globalisation of tobacco addiction.
Bhutan continues to receive justifiable praise for its ban on the sale of tobacco. Many governments are too frightened to even discuss a ban on tobacco, hoping that an ever increasing tax on tobacco, assisted by smok¬ing cessation programs, will eventually make tobacco too expensive for smokers. High taxes on tobacco are helpful, but unfortunately, the poor¬est of the poor continue to pay high prices for tobacco to feed their addiction even forgoing food, rent, and other necessities. Bhutan’s ban is a much more compassionate approach than relying purely on a taxation regime and it not surprising that a government inspired by GNH principles has chosen this compassion¬ate path on tobacco control.
It does not make sense for the ban on the sale of tobacco to be lifted because of past en¬forcement challenges. It does work, it is working, and will only become more effective under the new legislation.
By Dr Craig Dalton

Drukair plans to attract more Indian tourists
Drukair says India could be the single biggest tourist market for Bhutan
With the aim to increase In¬dian tourists visiting Bhutan by five percent this year, Dru¬kair Corporation has revived its holiday package under the Royal Druk Holidays (RDH) brand.
The package for Indian tourists ranges from a mini¬mum of three nights four days to a maximum of 10 days. The packages are inclusive of air¬fare and other arrangements.
For promotion in India, Drukair is tying up with more agencies and hoteliers.
Currently, it is working with Bhutan Tourism Corpo¬ration Limited and has signed agreements with Tiger’s Nest Resort, Uma Resort, Zhiwal¬ing and Tashi Taj to promote Indian tourists only.
“We need to push this col¬lectively in some major mar¬kets in India,” said Tshering Penjor, the general manager (GM) of Drukair.
There are also plans to increase flight frequency from three to almost six a week to Delhi depending on the ongo¬ing discussions with Nepal Airlines.
The GM said Drukair did not market its holiday packages in countries where tourists require visas. “They are left to the expertise of the local tour operators.”
He said that the volume of tourists from other countries was not adequate for either the airline or hotels, and there was a need to find innovative means of using the excess capacity during the low sea-son from June to August and December to February.
“India is an important market with a GDP growth of 7.5 percent with the biggest middle class in the world, and an overseas travel estimated at 16 million people. With the convenience of travel to Bhu-tan, India could be the single biggest market,” said the GM.
However, once there is more participation from agen¬cies and hoteliers in India, Drukair will concentrate on their core business to keep the aircraft flying.
As a scheduled carrier, the GM said, it would be irrespon¬sible on their part to remove flights during low season. “We do have the challenge of main¬taining consistent reliability of service and ensuring finan-cial sustainability,” he said.
RDH is specifically targeted for India and Bangladesh, as people from these two countries do not require visa to enter Bhutan.
Drukair also promotes itself in Thailand and Nepal under the RDH. It has partner¬ships with agencies in Nepal for pilgrimage, leisure and golfing packages.
Drukair is also revisiting operational plans with regard to routes, and there will be more flight frequencies within the Saarc region soon.
Hongkong is on Drukair’s radar for 2011 end but this depends on how the aviation scene turns out by the end of the year after the domestic air services are introduced, and whether there will be ad¬ditional airlines operating out of Bhutan.
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Prime Minister meets constituents in Capital.

The prime minister yesterday met with people of his constituency residing within the capital city to discuss the country’s ongoing developments activities and of plans in the offing. Speaking to some 200 people from various parts of Pemagatshel, working and residing in Thimphu. gathered at the front lawn of the prime minister’s two-storied house, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley emboldened them to express their views without fear.

“I want to know where I’m going wrong,” he said, adding that he wished to inform them of the development taking place within the country and future plans, which were vital for people to be aware of.
“I felt it’s an obligation on my part to inform constituency development program and government policy on both constituency and national level,” Lyonchhoen said.In his speech, the prime minister said in two years and four months since beginning the process towards democracy, it was his first time meeting with people of his constituency living in Thimphu, to consult and receive their feedbacks.
“People living in the capital have a very good perception of our constituency and are well aware of the larger challenges and responsibilities of the government,” he said.Lyonchhoen’s presentation comprised mostly the progress of minimum development program to alleviate poverty in the country, progress on road network, both within the dzongkhag and national levels.
Other development activities he touched upon were on electrification, water supply, easy access to school, improvement of health services and mobile phone coverage. The presentation also included the restoration and renovation works of temples and monasteries, including those damaged by the earthquakes last year.Rinzin Jamtsho from the prime minister’s grievance cell said the unmet commitments under discussion. “We’ll try our best to fulfill all our future plans and our commitments,” he said.Lyonchoen said people elected him not as their master but as their server.
“I’ll serve them in the best way I can, for both my constituency and my country,” he said. “In this regard, their guidance and interaction are very important.”
Some people in the gathering said such an occasion was rare, where they felt the intimacy between a prime minister and his people.
“We understand he can’t live up to all the commitments he makes, because he has to look after the benefit of the nation,” Dechen Wangmo from Shumar geog said. “We hope our future needs and plans are met before the next election.”The meeting was followed by lunch prepared at Lyonchhoen’s home.
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100 monks from Bhutan who graduated from the Namdroling Monastery in Mysore, India.
About 100 monks from Bhutan who graduated from he Namdroling Monastery in Mysore, India, received their graduation certificate from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama during the sixth convocation ceremony of the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, on September 3.

His Holiness conferred the certificates to the masters, bachelors and higher secondary graduates in Buddhist philosophy from the institute.
The Bhutanese graduates, some of who are already working in the civil service, corporations and private agencies had come on leave, while some had come from various monasteries, taking a break from their teaching.
The 5th convocation was held in 2003 presided by the founder of the monastery, the late HH Drupwang Pema Norbu rinpoche. 578 higher secondary graduates, 471 bachelor’s degree and 421 master’s degree graduates were awarded the certificate this year.
NNI, since it was established in 1978, has so far seen a total of 1,705 higher secondary graduates, 800 bachelor’s degree graduates and 596 master’s degree students graduate, while a total of 105 Phd certificates were awarded the title of khenpo.
His Holiness also awarded certificate to nun graduates, who studied the same courses. The nunnery, established in 1994, saw 30 nuns graduate with higher secondary education, and 12 with bachelor’s degree. They were from Bhutan, Nepal and India.
NNI, since its establishment, has contributed to spreading the Buddhadharma and educating hundreds of Bhutanese youth, according to Lopen Tshering Penjor, who received his master’s degree on Friday.
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International Trade Fair not Travel Fair.
6 September, 2010 - On Wednesday evening, chamber officials spent a good amount of time with the Bhutan agriculture and food regulatory authority (BAFRA) officials clearing 200 kg of dried buffalo meat coming into the country from Nepal.

“BAFRA thought only samples come in for trade fairs and we had to explain that it was for a Nepali restaurant,” a chamber official told.
The salted and dried meat packed in transparent plastic packets is one of several items from Nepal that will be up for sale at the international trade fair, which opened in Thimphu yesterday. Other items from Nepal that might interest the Bhutanese are gold painted statues, exquisite thangkas, silver water offering bowls, ornaments and religious items.
“We’re participating for the first time and some of our items are still not here,” said Bikram Maharjan of Chandra Surya handicrafts, as a monk surveyed the row of statues on display and enquired about a six-inch statue of Tshepamee, the goddess of longevity.
There are 28 participants from Nepal, 50 from India, three from Thailand, two from Bangladesh and one from Singapore taking part in the fair that is offering a lot of same things, particularly consumer goods, that fairs in the past have had.
A new stall this time is the bamboo furniture and decorative items and weaves of the Bodoland regional apex weavers & artisans cooperative federation ltd from Assam, India. “I’ve come here before but this time I’ve tried to bring the variety and diversity Assam has to offer in handicrafts,” said Malati Rani Narzary, who is the chairperson of the federation. “I’m confident that all our products will do well here,” she said. The products also include dried shitake mushrooms and bananas.
The Phya Thai hospital stall will have a senior doctor, who will provide free health advisory services, according to chamber officials.
The Bhutan chamber of commerce and industry, which is organising the five-day fair, is charging international participants Nu 35,000 to hire stall space for the duration of the fair. Bhutanese participants are paying between Nu 25,000-Nu 30,000 depending on the stall size. In total, there are 125 participants, including several food stalls selling Indian, Thai, Bhutanese and Nepali food.
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Mountain Biking race from Bumthang to Thimphu
It was the first of its kind to be held in Bhutan- a bicycle race from Bumthang to Thimphu. Twenty three Bhutanese including a lady participated in the “Tour of The Dragon” race.  The riders had to cross 4 mountain passes, all over 3,000 metres above sea level. The distance covered was almost 270 kilometres.

His Majesty’s Representative to the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC), His Royal Highness the Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck also participated in the race.

The race was flagged off from Bumthang at 2 am. Ugyen Yoesar, 31, a tour guide of the Yangphel Adventure and Travel completed the race in 12 hours 33 minutes and won the race.Ugyen Yoesar will receive a sum of Nu. 20,000 and a one night stay at Uma in Paro. The first and second runners up will receive Nu. 15,000 and Nu. 10,000 each.This year saw participants from the civil service, students, entrepreneurs, tour guides and officials of the BOC.

According to officials the race is aimed at promoting cycling and living a healthy life. It is also aimed at attracting cyclists from all around the world to challenge themselves.The race is sponsored by Bhutan Olympic Committee, Yangphel Adventure and Travel and Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited.

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Bhutan host for 8th South Asian Men’s Body Building Championship in June 2011
Bhutan will be hosting the 8th South Asian Men’s Body Building Championship in June next year. This is the first time for the country to host an international sporting event.

Ten participants each in various categories from the South Asian member countries will be taking part in the championship. Being the host country, Bhutan will have the privilege of having two participants each in various categories. The Championship is classified into 10 weight categories with 55 kilograms as the entry weight.

For now, the Bhutan Body Building and Weight Lifting Federation is yet to select the Bhutanese participants. The selection will be held within this month in order to provide ample time for the selected participants to prepare for the event.
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Hindu devotees celebrate Lord Krishna’s birthday in Paro,Bhutan.
For the first time, Hindus in Paro celebrated the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna yesterday. On the day, devotees celebrated by signing devotional songs and chanted prayers.until today devotees celebrated the day privately in their homes. However, with increasing number of devotees, the day was observed in the open space this year. Lord Krishna was born 5,000 years ago in Mathura in India. Since then the Hindus have been celebrating the birth anniversary.
Around 200 Hindu devotees including Dzongkhag officials were present during the function.
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Uma Paro and Druk Star join Pelden Group in the Bhutan Archery finals

September 2: (Yangphel Archery Update) Uma Paro will take on Druk Star and Pelden Group of Companies in the finals of the Yangphel Open Archery tournament. The finals are scheduled for September 11.In the first match yesterday, Druk Star defeated Laya tour and Lama Bakery in the penalty shoot-out. In the other semi-final, Uma Paro defeated Tangmachu Charo and Hung.Pelden Group of Companies defeated Druk Five and Khadel yesterday.
A record number of 165 teams took part in the tournament.
Riding Mountain Bike and  bicycles  to office
Civil servants and teachers in Haa have come up with a new initiative to ride bicycle to their offices and schools instead of cars. Such programmes were aimed to reduce air pollution and to encourage healthy living.

Eight civil servants procured bicycles through the Dzongkhag Education Sector. Every morning and evening the group of eight civil servants is seen riding their bicycle to and from their office.According to the Dzongkhag Education Officer, Sonam Tenzin, the idea would help reduce air pollution and safeguard the environment. “This will also help in achieving the goals of Gross National Happiness.”

He added that more civil servants are showing interest to buy bicycles.The cycles are bought from the neighboring border town of Siliguri in India. It cost Nu. 8,000 for a bicycle.This environment friendly cycling initiative was inaugurated on Sunday.
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Sixth Private Newspaper in Bhutan.
Druk Neytshuel, the first private Dzongkha newspaper hits the market with its first edition of circulation beginning this week.
Druk Neytshuel becomes the sixth private newspaper in the country. The 24 page independent Dzongkha newspaper covers social, political, entertainment, history, environment, business, culture, religion and community issues. The weekly paper cost Nu. 10.The first edition of the paper was distributed in the market free of cost today.Chungdu Tshering, the Chief Editor told BBS that the paper will also feature news items and features for children’s understanding.
Today Druk Neytshuel has 21 employees including reporters. They have plans to open bureau offices in the Dzongkhags.
Growth in a Bhutan Buddhist Economy
Bhutan’s rugged geography fostered the rise of a hardy population of farmers and herdsmen, and helped to foster a strong Buddhist culture, closely connected in history with Tibet. The population is sparse -- roughly 700,000 people on territory the size of France – with agricultural communities nestled in deep valleys and a few herdsmen in the high mountains. Each valley is guarded by a dzong (fortress), which includes monasteries and temples, all dating back centuries and exhibiting a masterful combination of sophisticated architecture and fine arts.
Bhutan’s economy of agriculture and monastic life remained self-sufficient, poor, and isolated until recent decades, when a series of remarkable monarchs began to guide the country toward technological modernization (roads, power, modern health care, and education), international trade (notably with neighboring India), and political democracy.  What is incredible is the thoughtfulness with which Bhutan is approaching this process of change, and how Buddhist thinking guides that thoughtfulness. Bhutan is asking itself the question that everyone must ask: how can economic modernization be combined with cultural robustness and social well-being?
In Bhutan, the economic challenge is not growth in gross national product, but in gross national happiness (GNH). I went to Bhutan to understand better how GNH is being applied. There is no formula, but, befitting the seriousness of the challenge and Bhutan’s deep tradition of Buddhist reflection, there is an active and important process of national deliberation. Therein lies the inspiration for all of us.
Part of Bhutan’s GNH revolves, of course, around meeting basic needs -- improved health care, reduced maternal and child mortality, greater educational attainment, and better infrastructure, especially electricity, water, and sanitation. This focus on material improvement aimed at meeting basic needs makes sense for a country at Bhutan’s relatively low income level.
Yet GNH goes well beyond broad-based, pro-poor growth. Bhutan is also asking how economic growth can be combined with environmental sustainability -- a question that it has answered in part through a massive effort to protect the country’s vast forest cover and its unique biodiversity. It is asking how it can preserve its traditional equality and foster its unique cultural heritage. And it is asking how individuals can maintain their psychological stability in an era of rapid change, marked by urbanization and an onslaught of global communication in a society that had no televisions until a decade ago.
I came to Bhutan after hearing an inspiring speech by Prime Minister Jigme Thinley at the 2010 Delhi Summit on Sustainable Development. Thinley had made two compelling points. The first concerned the environmental devastation that he could observe – including the retreat of glaciers and the loss of land cover – as he flew from Bhutan to India. The second was about the individual and the meaning of happiness. Thinley put it simply: We are each finite and fragile physical beings. How much “stuff” -- fast foods, TV commercials, large cars, new gadgets, and latest fashions – can we stuff into ourselves without deranging our own psychological well-being?
For the world’s poorest countries, such questions are not the most pressing. Their biggest and most compelling challenge is to meet citizens’ basic needs. But, for more and more countries, Thinley’s reflection on the ultimate sources of well-being is not only timely, but urgent.
Everybody knows how American-style hyper-consumerism can destabilize social relations and lead to aggressiveness, loneliness, greed, and over-work to the point of exhaustion. What is perhaps less recognized is how those trends have accelerated in the United States itself in recent decades. This may be the result of, among other things, the increasing and now relentless onslaught of advertising and public relations. The question of how to guide an economy to produce sustainable happiness -- combining material well-being with human health, environmental conservation, and psychological and cultural resiliency – is one that needs addressing everywhere.
Bhutan has many things going its way. It will be able to increase exports of clean, run-of-the-river hydropower to India, thereby earning foreign exchange in a manner that is sustainable and that can fill government coffers to fund education, health care, and infrastructure. The country is also intent on ensuring that the benefits of growth reach all of the population, regardless of region or income level.
There are serious risks. Global climate change threatens Bhutan’s ecology and economy. Incautious and expensive advice from McKinsey and other private consulting firms could help turn Bhutan into a degraded tourist zone. One must hope that the quest for GNH will help steer the country away from such temptations.
The key for Bhutan is to regard GNH as an enduring quest, rather than as a simple checklist. Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition understands happiness not as attachment to goods and services, but as the result of the serious work of inner reflection and compassion toward others.
Bhutan has embarked on such a serious journey. The rest of the world’s economies should do the same.Source: Kuensel and http://www.bhutanvisitors.com
The Golden Langur in Bhutan
The endangered golden langur (trachypithecus geei), which is native to Bhutan and some parts of the neighbouring Indian state of Assam, could be under threat of extinction from crossbreeding with the capped langur, according to a Bhutanese researcher.

“The crossbred offsprings are very fertile and can produce further offsprings easily and that could erase the golden langur species,” said Dr Tashi Wangchuk who has studied the conservation of golden and capped langurs in Bhutan. “The golden and capped langurs hybridise naturally in areas between the Dunmang tshachu in Zhemgang and Riotala (near Kartigangchu) in Trongsa.”
Pure capped langurs are found east of Dunmang tshachu, while pure golden langur extend west and north of Riotala.
“The hybrid process could probably be due to human settlement,” said Dr Tashi. “After settling, people started building bridges across the Chamkhar river, where the langurs used those bridges to cross to the other side and grouped together,” he said. “Earlier, the river acted as a barrier.”
The capped langur traits (black colour) are more dominant than golden traits (gold colour) and the phylogenetic (study of the closeness/relatedness of genetic codes) clearly shows that male capped langur are the ones moving into golden langur troops and siring the hybrid offsprings,” states Dr Tashi Wangchuk’s report, which was submitted to the critical ecosystem partnership fund (CEPF) that funded the research. “Because of this, golden langur could disappear as a distinct species,” his report states.
Dr Tashi said the hybridisation process cannot be stopped, unless all four bridges across the river are removed but that, he said, was not practical. “Therefore, necessary monitoring at the hybrid zone, study on the stability of the zone should be done,” he said.
“Keeping guard at the bridges could also reduce the problem,” he added. There are about 4,000 golden langurs in the wild in Bhutan and about 1,000 in Assam.
The golden langur with a very restricted range is confined to western Assam in India and Bhutan only. However, because of deforestation, occasional poaching and loss of habitat in Assam, Bhutan has become the last bastion for their survival as a species, according to the researcher.
Dr Tashi Wangchuk has recommended further research to assess the extinction threat to golden langurs from hybridisation with capped langurs as “genetic introgressions tests can provide more definitive answers, which are easily quantifiable and measurable, rather than visual colour observations”.
But he also cautions that other conservation threats to golden langurs have not diminished.
The Gonphu-Panbang highway being built through the royal Manas national park will open up the area to large scale development. The planned mega hydro projects along the Mangdechu and Chamkharchu degrade the habitat of langurs from “near pristine” to “at risk”, his paper states. “It’s important to keep in mind that there are fewer than 4,000 golden langurs left in the wild, and the present rate of development and habitat loss and alteration could result in the gradual loss of the species over the next 50 years.”

Source Kuensel/http://www.bhutanvisitors.com
Art Festival in Thimphu,Bhutan
Waste management in urban areas has been a continuing problem. To further educate the people on this, students and youth volunteers got together, creating something out of nothing. With assistance from the Thimphu City Corporation and other stake holders, they organised an Art Festival featuring products made from wastes.The ‘Young Zoom Art Exhibition’ at the Clock Tower Square featured various products such as waste bins, mats, hand gloves and other decorative items all made from wastes.Organisers say they used about three truckloads of waste to make the display possible.

Inaugurating the festival, the Minister of Works and Human Settlement said it was a worthwhile initiative and appreciated both adults and children involved in this creative job.Lyonpo also said waste management was one of the major concerns for the government.The founder of Voluntary Artists Studio, Asha Karma, said this was initiated to make people realise the ill-effect of unmanaged waste both on the environment and people’s health.
Bhutan police to start Patrolling on mountain bikes
The 30 cycles used by the police are among the 353 that Lyonchen received from Japan
This huge dining hall familiar only with the rattle of plates and over-the-food chatter of our policemen is witnessing something different these days. Thirty policemen from Thimphu are being trained on mountain bike riding inside the Sarpang Police Camp mess. The heavy downpour in the past few days has not favored them to practice outdoors. But it seems they are enjoying it in the dining room. A source in Sarpang said the policemen are really excited to start patrolling on bicycles. The moment they knew the rains would not stop, instead of resting, the policemen themselves took initiative to arrange the dining hall for practice. “Some of them threw things around in a hurry to make space for the practice,” said the source. As the policemen ride, small wooden block are kept as glitches on the way and they learn gear shifting and break controlling. The training is for a week, where they are also taught basic maintenance and servicing of the bike. The source told  “As the policemen will be patrolling on mountain bikes, they have to be specially trained. Many have been riding the ordinary bicycles without any gears.”From the batch that had gone for the training, not a single policeman had tried a mountain bike. Of them, four did not know how to ride a cycle. The policemen are getting trained on 30 city and urban cycles and two mountain bikes.
City and urban bicycles are designed for frequent short, moderately paced rides through relatively flat urban areas. It is a form of utility bicycle commonly seen around the world, built to facilitate everyday riding in normal clothes in a variety of weather conditions.
The 30 cycles are from the 353 that prime minister received from Japan which the government has decided to allocate to Royal Bhutan Police and other agencies.
The cycles, the major lot of which is still being repaired in Phuentsholing, have been under constant media scrutiny. The source said the bikes are in good condition which can be used for training and also the police are getting a better understanding on how an old and a new bicycle functions.
A supportive opposition leader who rides bicycle to office said, “It is excellent way forward.”
“They will do perfectly well and it will be efficient in reaching places in Thimphu much easily,” he added. The traffic police bikers are being trained on how to ride in a convoy, how to maintain their balance and also how to ride over rough roads. Very soon, cycling policemen can be seen in Paro and Thimphu. If the system works out well then policemen from other dzongkhags will also be trained to patrol on bikes.
Source:  Business Bhutan/http://www.bhutanvisitors.com
Making Banking Easy in Thimphu,Bhutan.
Thimphu: Bank of Bhutan (BoB) has plans to install 100 ATM in Bhutan by 2015.
BoB has procured plans of installing 35 ATMs of which more than 15 has already been installed.
“Installation of ATM will help with the overcrowding in the bank and will increase the convenience for the clients,” said a spokes person from BoB.
“Installation of these technologies will greatly benefit the tourists and all the other local clients in terms of banking which will be made simple, efficient, effortless and cost effective,” said an official from the bank.
He added that a customer can operate on his account from any branch of the bank and also with ATM facilities; adding that a customer can operate on his account from virtually anywhere and make electronic funds transfer between banks within no time.
The bank is also installing two ATMs at the project site in addition to the already existing ATMs at Lobeysa and one at the bank premises.
BoB also plans to install about a dozen ATM machines in the Eastern Dzongkhags by the end of this year making it a seamless transaction for any of its customers with a BOB account.
Source: Bhutan Today/http://www.bhutanvisitors.com
Good News for Bhutan Travel Agents, Bhutan Tour Operators, Bhutan Visitors, Bhutan Tourism, Bhutan Travelers and Bhutan Tourist
Buddha Air 23 August, 2010 - When one of Nepal’s private airlines, Buddha air touches down at Paro airport today, the country’s 29 year old commercial aviation industry will be welcoming its first foreign airline that will operate commercial air services to Bhutan.

“People now have a second choice,” said Buddha air’s local representative, Kinley Tshering. “It’s going to be good for the public in general, and for the dynamics of the tourism industry,” he added. Although the benefits of Buddha Air’s competition will be limited to only between the Paro-Kathmandu sector, the airline has also expressed interest in connecting Paro to cities in India. 
Although the government has signed bilateral air services with other countries as early as 1986, low commercial viability of operating to Bhutan has deterred foreign airlines from flying into Paro airport. Bhutan has signed bilateral air services with Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand. Currently, talks are also underway to establish air links with Hong Kong and Singapore.
“It’s a healthy development,” said communications secretary, Dasho Kinley Dorji on Buddha Air’s inaugural flight. “Bhutan is pursuing economic development with tourism as one of the means, so we need the connectivity,” he said.
Even the national airline is welcoming Buddha Air, despite seeing an end to its long monopoly on the Paro-Kathmandu sector. Drukair CEO, Tandin Jamso had earlier told Kuensel that Buddha Air’s entrance would allow its customers to gauge the airline’s services in comparison to its competitor. Drukair customer service regularly faces complaints and criticism. He also said the competition would keep Drukair staff on their toes.
Buddha Air will be offering lower fares than Drukair, according to Kinley Tshering. This will be possible because Buddha Air will be using a smaller aircraft, which means lower operating costs than Drukair. Buddha Air will be operating a 19-seater, compared to Drukair’s current aircraft operating the sector which is a 48-seater.
Tourists will be charged USD 190 or a “little bit lower” for a one way ticket, according to Kinley Tshering. But he said that Buddha air is targeting only those tourists that cannot obtain a seat on Drukair during the peak tourist seasons in Bhutan.
“It’ll definitely be much more affordable,” said Kinley Tshering on the air fare for Bhutanese travellers. Although he did not provide a figure, he said the fare for locals would be announced shortly. He also said that the fare would be revised periodically and be based on market demand.
Buddha Air’s inaugural flight to Paro, which touches down at 11:55 PM, will have a passenger load of mostly government, tourism and airline officials.  It will be operating four flights a week, with plans to go daily.
Aviation Timeline
1968 – Airstrip constructed in Paro
1981 – National airline Drukair established
1983 – Drukair commences commercial air services with two 18-seater Dornier twin turbo propeller aircraft
1986 – Department of civil aviation established, bilateral air service (BAS) signed with Bangladesh
1980 – Increasing traffic prompts Drukair to upgrade fleet to jet aircraft with 82-seater BAe 146-100
1990 – Civil aviation act passed
1991 – BAS signed with India
1993 – BAS signed with Thailand
2002 – BAS signed with Myanmar
2004 – Drukair upgrades fleet to Airbus A319 jet aircraft, BAS signed with Nepal
2010 – Government pursues establishing domestic air services
2010 – Buddha Air, a private Nepal based airline commences operations to Bhutan
Source:Kuensel
Bhutan Festival Tours for 2011,Bhutan Paro Festival,Paro Festival Tour,Tours to Paro Festival,Paro Festival Dates
Paro Festival Tours is one of the crowded festivals in Bhutan. The unfolding of the silk Thangka - which is so large that it covers the face of the building -is considered one of the most sacred blessings in the whole of Bhutan. The 'Thangka' is a religious picture scroll known as a Thongdroel and it is exhibited for a few hours, at day break of the final day of the festival, enabling the people to obtain its blessing. This holy scroll 'confers liberation by the mere sight of it' (the meaning of the word 'thongdroel' in Bhutanese). This festival is held once a year so it is also the time to for Bhutanese to celebrate with their relatives and friends.

TRIP LENGTH:  8 DAYS 7NIGHTS.
FESTIVAL DATES: 15th March-19th March 2011.
Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport and will be Receive by Tashi Gongphel Tours Representatives. Check in at Olathang Hotel. After an early tea visit: Kichu Lhakhang (Temple),Paro dzong,Taa Dzong(Watch tower) overnight at hotel Olathang.

Day 2: Full day at Paro Festival

Day 3: Full day at Paro festival.

Day 4: After breakfast drive to Thimphu and visit the King's Memorial Chorten, Changangkha Monastery,Nunnery temple, National Library, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Trashicho Dzong, Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, Textile museum and Folk Heritage Museum.

Day 5: After early breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass, where you can see 108 Bhutanese Stupas. If the weather is clear you can see all Himalayas Ranges with all snow covered. Further drive to Punakha and visit Punakha Dzong.In the evening short hike to Chimi Lhakhang(Temple).It is a gentle walk through beautiful farm houses and vast plains of rice fields, for about half an hour.

Day 6: After breakfast, drive to Wangdue and visit Wangdue Dzong .Enroute stop for a lunch at Thimphu and drive to Paro.

Day 7: Day Hike or Mule ride to Tigers Nest Monastery.  One of the most venerated places   precariously perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. From the road point the hike up to Taktshang, on a well maintained path, is up hills takes around 2-3 hours at an average walking speed. On a sunny day please do remember to carry sunscreen, water, walking stick and a hat.

Day 8: Departures
Most of our Paro hotels are within 15 minutes drive to the airport. Transfer to Paro Airport. Check in two hours prior to flight departure to ensure the best seats on board Druk Air.
http://www.bhutanvisitors.com
HAA SUMMER FESTIVAL TOURS 9TH AND 10TH JULY 2011.

Looking for something to do and experience in summer? Well, look no further.

Mark your calendar and save the date for the Haa Summer Festival on 9th and 10th July, 2011. The
festival is one of the most special events organized in the enchanted valley of Haa which was opened to
tourists only in 2002.

Bhutan Online Visa

We are pleased to inform all tour operators and other stakeholders that the Tashel Online System, which has been under the testing phase for the last two months, has been fully completed and successful. Therefore, we would like to notify all concerned that the Tashel Online System will be implemented from Monday, the 19th of July, 2010 for actual generation of tourist visas (i.e only the online visas applied from Monday onwards will be actual visas).

To this effect, we would like to request all tour operators to kindly fill in accurate details with proper guest photos for your online visa applications.
Please bear in mind that once the requested online visas are issued by the Department of Immigration, the changes can only be incorporated through a cancellation process.

We would like to once again thank all tour operators for your continued support, co-operation and the patience rendered during the testing phase.

The TCB Management.

NOTE:

  • Uploaded Photos should be clearly visible and in colour or grayscale
  • Please submit your Credit Advice manually to TCB for Visa Endorsement.
  • Please send us feedback and suggestions

http://www.tashel.gov.bt/admin/index.php?page=profile

2010 FIFA World Cup Final on 11/07 20:30 at Johannesburg after results of W61     -     W62    for more details visit at http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/index.html/bhutanvisitors.com

The latest World Cup 2010 news coverage of every match, scores, fixtures, results, tables, video and blogs from FIFA.com. for more visit at http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/index.html

Volcano ash costs tourism cash

home 82 cancellations recorded due to air traffic disruptions

22 April, 2010 - Eighty-two tourists from Europe have so far cancelled their trip to Bhutan after Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull (pronounced Eye-a-fyat-la-jo-kutl) volcano erupted last Wednesday, disrupting air traffic and forcing thousands of airlines to cancel their flights, according to tourism council of Bhutan (TCB) officials.

The volcano that had been dormant for nearly two centuries erupted on April 14, filling the European airspace with ash, which flight safety experts said could severely damage jet engines.

The canceled trips of the 82 tourists are from April 18 until May 6, with stays in Bhutan ranging from five to 15 days. “The payment of all these 82 tourists have been made,” said TCB’s visa officer Sangay Lhaden. “Right now, the whole amount of USD 180 per tourist is with us and we’ll be refunding their payments.”

The months of March, April and May bring in more than 6,000 tourists into the country every year. Last year, 8,190 tourists flew into Bhutan in these three months.

Of the USD 200 daily tariff, 10 percent is usually paid as commission to the overseas agent. Sangay Lhaden, however, said that some tourists might want to visit later.
Some of the travel agents, whose tourists have cancelled their trip to Bhutan, are Snow White tours with 16 cancellations,Tashi Gongphel Tours with 6 cancellations, Rainbow tours and treks had seven and Luxury division and Bhutan Dorji Holidays with six each.

According to royal monetary authority’s 2008-2009 annual report, Europeans and North Americans largely dominate Bhutan’s tourism market. The two blocs accounted for 71 percent of all visitors to Bhutan in 2008.With almost 75 percent of flight to and from Europe resuming yesterday, Bhutanese tour operators are hoping that there will fewer cancellations in the coming days.Iceland, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, is famous for its hot springs, geysers and active volcanoes.

Source:Kuensel

The Royal Government of Bhutan recognizes that tourism is worldwide phenomenon and an important means of achieving socio – economic development particularly counties like Bhutan. It also recognizes that tourism, in affording the opportunity to travel, can help promoting understanding among peoples and building closer ties of friendship based on appreciation and respect for different cultures and lifestyles.

There are, however, problems associated with tourism which, if not controlled, can have devastating and irreversible impact on the local environment, culture and identity of the people. Realizing these problems and the fact that the resources on which tourism is based are limited, the Royal government of Bhutan recognizes the need to develop the Bhutanese tourism industry based on the principles of sustainability, which means it must be environmentally and economically viable.

Towards achieving this objective, the Royal Government, since inception of tourism in the year 1974, has adopted a very cautious approach to growth and development of the tourism industry in Bhutan. In order to minimize the problems, the number of tourists has been maintain at a manageable level and this control on number is exercised through a policy of Government regulated tourist tariff  “ high value low volume”.

Tourism Tariff to be increased w.e.f January 2011
ALL TOUR OPERATORS

As you would be aware, the long awaited meeting with the Hon’ble Lyonchhen (Prime Minister)was held on 24th February 2010.
As an update and information only, the following are some of the major outcome: -

1.    Government is committed to the policy of “High Value, Low Impact”, minimal or no negative impact which does not undermine culture, promotes      ecological conservation, equitable distribution of tourism benefits and social harmony.
2.    Diversification of tourism with a focus on wellbeing/ spirituality, MICE and adventure tourism based on principles of GNH
3.    Regular consultation between the stakeholders. At-least 1 meeting between TCB and sector association in 6 months, if required the sector association to put in writing requesting for additional meeting. Annual meeting between Council Members and stakeholders.
4.    TCB to update on all initiatives implemented on TCB website on regular basis.
5.    Tariff: -

•    Tariff: To be increased to $ 250
•    Season: All year round (No lean season months)
•    Children below 12 years, no royalty
•    Surcharge, status quo
•    W.E.F. January 2011

6.    Monitoring: Respective association to develop mechanism to monitor their members in collaboration with TCB. Ensure proper location and addresses of all tour operators.
7.    Respective association to institute and promote ethical conducts (Code of Conducts/ Responsible tourism guidelines etc…)
8.    ABTO to monitor and regulate transparency of packages offered within the tariff.
9.    ABTO and HAB to work together on improving cuisine variety and improvement.
10.    ABTO and HAB to work out an amicable solution on debt issues.
11.    No excuses for those involved in unethical tourism practices such as sex tourism.
12.    Tariff differentiation on selling luxury resorts/ hotels between tour operators and luxury hotels selling directly to be resolved by TCB.

Overall Hon’ble Prime Minister appealed to all the stakeholders to promote and preserve our national identity through wearing our national dress to individual private offices.

Kindly be informed that an official announcement/ circular on the above will soon be circulated, until then treat the above information as reference and for your kind information only.

With Kind regards,

ABTO Secretariat

******************************************************
Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO),
POST BOX No. 938,
Thimphu : BHUTAN.

Annual Black Necked Crane Festival Event

This year, the Annual Black Necked Crane Festival event will be held on 11th November instead of 12th November. The decision has been made by the Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC) as per the suggestion from the Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag Administration.

It had to be decided due to lack of government official holiday on 12th November which has made it inconvenient for the government institutions especially the local schools to take part in the festival.

http://www.bhutanvisitors.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=102&Itemid=117

HONG KONG  BEST  ACTOR WINNER TONY LEUNG AND CARINA LAU MARRIED IN BHUTAN.

Hong Kong actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau cut their wedding cake in the Kingdom of Bhutan July 21, 2008.[Agencies]
Hong Kong actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau
One of Hong Kong’s leading entertainment couples, actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau, were married in Bhutan in a Buddhist-inspired ceremony attended by the tiny kingdom’s royalty, local media reported on Monday.

Leung is one of Hong Kong’s biggest film stars on the international art-house circuit and a longtime collaborator of prize-winning Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai.

Leung and Lau married in the reclusive Himalayan kingdom, known for its breathtaking, pristine natural scenery, on Monday at the exclusive Uma Paro resort.

Hong Kong actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau smile during their wedding ceremony in the Kingdom of Bhutan July 21, 2008.[Agencies]

Newspapers and websites carried photographs of Leung and Lau, who have been together for many years, posing before a congregation of monks in red robes, Leung wearing a tuxedo and Lau in a white gown.

Bhutan royalty reportedly attended the ceremony along with 100 guests, including Canto-pop diva and actress Faye Wong.

“Thank you everyone for making such a long trip to attend our wedding. I believe it is destiny that gathers us together here,” Lau was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying.

Leung, 46, is known for his cool, understated acting style in a raft of films by Wong.
Hong Kong actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau pose with young Bhutanians during their wedding ceremony in the Kingdom of Bhutan July 21, 2008.[Agencies]

These include his depiction of a gay lover in “Happy Together” and as a cuckolded husband in “In the Mood for Love,” a role that landed him the Palme d’Or for best actor at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.Leung and Lau, 43, appeared together in the Wong films “Days of Being Wild” and “Ashes of Time”

Hong Kong actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau pose with young Bhutanians during their wedding ceremony in the Kingdom of Bhutan July 21, 2008.[Agencies]
Lau said she had chosen Bhutan for her nuptials after a spiritually uplifting visit to the snow-capped Himalayan kingdom.

“I felt the peace the moment I arrived in Bhutan … I could understand that people here are happy not because of their material life, but because of their satisfaction on a spiritual level,” Lau was quoted in the paper as saying.

Source: China Daily

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