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Expo 2020 Dubai: Bhutan reopens historic trail with plans for sustainable tourism – Khaleej Times

Monday, Jan 17, 2022 | Jamada Al-Aakhirah 14, 1443
Published: Sun 16 Jan 2022, 11:20 AM
Last updated: Sun 16 Jan 2022, 11:22 AM
Bhutan, the only carbon negative economy in the world, has announced the reopening of its ancient Trans Bhutan Trail in March 2022 after a long gap of 60 years.
The tiny Himalayan country hopes the move will bring economic prosperity for its local communities.
The announcement was made at Expo 2020 Dubai by Bhutan’s Commissioner-General and Minister for Economic Affairs, Loknath Sharma, on Saturday.
Speaking at the Bhutan pavilion in the Opportunity District, Sharma said: “Being at Expo gives us the opportunity to come together and inform the world what Bhutan has to offer in terms of its natural beauty, friendly people and unique culture.”
The 250-mile ancient trail was previously used by royals, monks and traders to traverse the kingdom. Ahead of its reopening, the country’s tourism board is focused on its policy that aims to create a balance between visitor numbers and sustainability.
Dorji Dhradhul, director-general of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, said: “Our tourism policy of ‘High Value, Low Volume’ means that we want to offer an unforgettable experience to the tourists, but don’t want to be over-run by them. We have regulations in place, and plan to manage tourist numbers to protect our natural heritage. We are a carbon-negative country due to our environment policies, which have been in place since the 1970s. Our policies are guided by our constitution and the principle of Gross National Happiness.
“The local communities along the Trans Bhutan Trail will benefit directly from its reopening, and will engage in maintaining the route and providing services to the tourists.”
The Trans Bhutan Trail runs from the east to the west of the mountainous country, passing through lush river valleys. It is a path through Bhutan’s history, with many historic and cultural sights, and diverse communities living along the route.
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Sharma said while many countries are kickstarting reforestation programmes and taking measures to protect their natural environments, Bhutan is already rich in biodiversity, where 60 per cent of its land mass is currently under forest cover.
“Our people live in harmony with nature, guided by their spiritual values. Happiness is the ultimate aim of our government and its people, and Bhutan develops its business and economic models with a strong focus on its Gross National Happiness principle.”
Bhutan is the only country in the world that ranks Gross National Happiness above economic growth. It has implemented policies that protect the well-being and collective happiness of its people, and ensures that economic development and spiritual happiness coexist in harmony.
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