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Bhutan caters Chinese tourists

The Tourism Council of Bhutan(TCB) and the guide Association of Bhutan(GAB) jointly conducted a chines basic language course for the guides and the hotel staff .So to understand the chines culture and the importance in the service industry.

In what could be described as a first move towards this initiative, about 30 people, mostly tour guides and hotel staff, were trained on the Chinese culture for three days by a voluntary consultant from Singapore which concluded yesterday.

In the first two days, participants were taught on the culture, geography and history of China.

With increasing number of tourists visiting the country over the years and Chinese tourists being ranked as fifth in terms of number of tourists visiting Bhutan, most tour operators say that the program was timely.

“Knowing about the culture and the history of the tourist’s country is the way towards gaining their trust and confidence. It will make them more comfortable,” a guide with Bhutan Dynasty Travel, Pelden, said.

He said more Chinese tourists are visiting the country and that such program was very important for our growing tourism industry.

“It will only make them happy and in turn promote our tourism industry if we know about their culture and share the same feeling,” he added.

Meanwhile, the infrastructure development assistant of TCB, Pema Samdrup, said Bhutan and China share almost the same kind of culture and that it was important for us to know the similarities while taking the tourists on field tour.

According to media spokesperson of TCB, Damcho Rinzin, tourist arrival from China has registered about five-fold increase in the last five years.

The tourism industry saw a record high of 1,494 Chinese visitors in 2010, about 5.5% of international arrivals and 30% growth over 2009. In 2010, China was the fifth largest tourism market for Bhutan after United State, Japan, Germany and United Kingdom, according to the Annual Report on Bhutan Tourism Monitor (ARBTM) of the TCB.

ARBTM show that 234 tourist visited in 2005, 364 in 2006, 504 in 2007 and 1,069 in 2008, thus showing an increase in the number of tourists.

Presently, a TCB official said many tour groups had to bring their own tour leader because of the dearth of Bhutanese guides who can speak Chinese language.

Although there are 1,400 registered guides in the country, the general secretary of GAB, Sangay Phurba, said none of them can speak Chinese language.

“Though most of them are highly educated, many of them cannot speak English well. Because of that they demand for guides who can speak their language. It is important therefore that guides needs to be groomed in their language if we are to boost tourism industry,” he said.

While this is an introductory program, organizers say more extensive training on Chinese language will be provided to the guides and hoteliers in the future.