Bowled Over by Bhutan - 2007

TOURISM

Bhutan strictly controls tourism in its efforts to contain contamination from outside

influences. By charging relatively high prices and requiring that all visitors have

Bhutanese guides and drivers, the government restricts the number of tourists each

year. In 2007, Bhutan would allow only 17,000 visitors in all. No independent backpackers

such as Nepal has hosted over the years are permitted here. The plan is to permit 21,000 to

visit in 2008! So we realized that we were in a very select group by being able to visit this

marvelous place. It has only been in the last 15 years that television was allowed and

foreign movies are still not shown in Bhutan (it has its own movie industry to produce

films for home consumption). Foreign movies are available to rent for home use. Of

course, the Internet (there are many Cyber-Cafes all around the country) and the

ubiquitous cell phones are quickly silting in the artificial “moat”that has protected the little

sky-castle kingdom for so long.

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