Bhutan royals' visit to Japan boosts interest in travel to their country

TOKYO —

Travel agencies in Japan have reported an increase in inquiries about tours to the Himalayan nation of Bhutan after King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema made a highly-publicized six-day state visit to Japan last week.

Tour operators reported that traffic to their websites with information about Bhutan soared after the royal couple left Osaka on Sunday, Fuji TV reported. Bhutan is being promoted as “the happiest country in the world” and ideal for a New Year getaway. Bookings are also coming in for next spring, said one travel agent.

A spokesman for GNH Travel & Service in Tokyo, which specializes in travel to Bhutan, said they had received inquiries such as “What is Bhutan like?” “Would you tell me how to go to Bhutan?” “How much does a trip to Bhutan cost?” and so on, according to Fuji TV.

GNH said the number of inquiries was three times more than normal, while web traffic soared by 10 times.

Big travel agency JTB is also getting many inquiries. The company told Sankei Shimbun that it has set up a special section on its website, called “Want to go to Bhutan?” It offers small group tours.

Another Tokyo travel agency, Wind’s, started advertising a tour to Bhutan on its website and page views increased by 40 times, a spokesperson told Sankei.

Meanwhile, the Japan-Bhutan Friendship Association told reporters that it usually only gets about one inquiry a day, but has been receiving more than a 10 a day since the king and queen arrived in Japan.

Japan Today

  • 1

    paulinusa

    The number of tourists allowed to visit is limited but I'm sure that won't stop the legions of young Japanese women looking for kawaii souvenirs and camara phone shots.

  • 0

    cactusJack

    They want to buy those boots.

  • 1

    y3chome

    I want to buy those boots. They look like they give you super powers.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    Well, then, good. After all that's part of the reason for going overseas on a diplomatic mission -- to become better friends and hopefully inspire more interest in your nation.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Good luck - very expensive to get in. Bhutan is get PR people, more so when you consider their history.

  • 2

    Vernie Jefferies

    It's worth going to Bhutan just to see Queen Jetsun Pema. Have you guys seen her on television? She is absolutely gorgeous.

  • 1

    Foxie

    I wanna go there too and see pristine landscape with crystal clear lakes and beautiful colorful houses. What a serene place to get away from our hectic lifes.

  • -1

    Peter Payne

    In other news, ブータン is a really cute sounding name in Japanese.

  • 2

    knowitall

    What a serene place to get away from our hectic lifes.

    At a minimum of $200 a day, not including transportation to get there. You would need to live a hectic life to afford the place. However, there is a discount for royalty from the 9th day. Anybody here royalty? (source: Tourism Council of Bhutan)

  • 2

    Karma Gyeltshen

    Why Bhutan is a destination! Bhutan is the last of the Himalayan Kingdoms. The small country is situated in the nooks and crannies of the highest mountain range on the earth. It’s special place that didn’t have paved roads until the 1960’s, was off- limits to foreign tourist until the 1970’s and it didn’t have television until 1999, the last country in the world to get service. The altitude and scenery are enough to take your breath away. In this country the environment is cherished. The kingdom of Bhutan lists environmental protection as an one of the four pillars of happiness , a state of mind the country takes so seriously that “ gross national happiness “ is considered more important than gross domestic product. http://www.go2bhutan.com

  • 1

    Foxie

    Since when is $200 expensive? That's what you pay travelling in Japan too. The tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan is one of the world's last unspoiled treasures. People live a traditional lifestyle in unbelievably picturesque settings. And one thing I really like about Bhutan is that there are no traffic lights there:)

  • 4

    vctokyo

    i went about 5 years ago and the $200 per day is reflecting in some of the money being spent on hotels, guides etc (i went on a 10 day trek) but it was well every cent. ok it's alot but most of the money (i was told and hopefully) is being used to add to the infrastructure, income for workers, etc i.e. adding to their gross national happiness indicator. It is pretty expensive to fly there though from Japan, but you only live once.

  • 1

    BurakuminDes

    Since when is $200 expensive? That's what you pay travelling in Japan too.

    Difference being, though, Japan is first world. First world nations are invariably expensive. Save your rupees folks and head to Himalayan Northern India. Same breathtaking scenery but probably a tenth of the cost.

    If the local girls all looked like Ms Jetsun Pema, however - and are "foreign-friendly" - it would be money well-spent!

  • 1

    Foxie

    Japan is first world??? There is only one world. Stop exploiting other cultures.

  • 1

    BurakuminDes

    Japan is first world??? There is only one world.

    Ummm...it's a matter of expression, Foxie. Maybe I should have used "Developed". Developed/Industrialised/First World nations ARE generally pricey to travel in compared to developing nations. Fact. $200 a day on travel expenses in a developing nation IS expensive. Fact.

    Stop exploiting other cultures.

    Where did ya get that nonsense? LOL

  • 1

    Foxie

    I want a world that has the same living standards and prices everywhere.

  • 0

    PT24881

    @paulinusa

    Indeed from my entourage, friends ( individuals ) who have been there referred to 'clumsy' procedure including detailed travel plan will be have to be submitted & applied ahead. Organized tours may be easier ?

  • 0

    gelendestrasse

    Bhutan is on my list but I have one more kid to get through college.....

  • -5

    tmarie

    Since when is $200 expensive? That's what you pay travelling in Japan too.

    Nope. That isn't what I pay when I travel here. Add transportation and you are looking at 400.00 or so extra a day. I have a friend who is from there/lives there and was invited to stay with him. Even WITH staying with him and his family, they were going to charge me crazy rates just to be there, let alone hotel, food, transportation...

    They want rich tourists, they want to keep an eye on them (the rules actually remind me of the ones I hear about with regards to traveling to North Korea) and want contact limited. Fine.

    Like I said earlier, they have great PR because if you knew the history of the country, all these "peaceful" comments and the like wouldn't be made.

    That being said, looks like an amazing country. Perhaps when I am rich enough to visit, I can take my friend up on his offer.

  • 0

    buchailldana

    He seemed an awful nice man.very soothing voice and peaceful mesage.good on him.

  • 1

    mntz1128rts

    I have a friend who is from there/lives there and was invited to stay with him. Even WITH staying with him and his family, they were going to charge me crazy rates just to be there, let alone hotel, food, transportation...

    Just wanted to let you know that if you are indeed invited into the country by a citizen or resident you are not required to pay for anything by law other than a $50 visa fee upon your arrival. The person you thought was your "friend" may have been misleading you.

    They want rich tourists, they want to keep an eye on them (the rules actually remind me of the ones I hear about with regards to traveling to North Korea) and want contact limited. Fine.

    The govt. doesn't "keep an eye" on anyone and there is really no basis for comparison to NK of all places. Contact with the people is also not limited in anyway.

    Generally your experience in the country would depend on the quality of the travel agency you booked your tour with or the hospitality of the person who invited you over.

  • 0

    CHAMADE

    Aman has a few resorts - very small ones - here and there in Bhutan, for the affluent Japanese visitors. Aman may be very predictable these days but it is sually comfportable, if outrageously overpriced. Bhutan is a very costly destination anyway, so...take LOTS of money. And go in a good month.

  • 0

    Foxie

    @mntz1128rts: You seem to know a lot about Bhutan. Is it better to go in spring, like late April or in September weatherwise?

  • 0

    DS

    Just checked the Bhutan tourism homepage, and the price is going up! Soon it will be $250 per day per person. SO, for a family of four, it will cost up to $1000 per day to visit Bhutan. Sounds like a ripoff. Upwards of $5-7000 for a week? Give me a break.

  • 0

    Foxie

    I found a 20 day trip all inclusive guide, transportation, accomodation and food for $275 per day. Not so expensive.

  • 0

    Foxie

    In comparison, a trip to the USA with transportation, guide and accomodation costs $250 per day. The food is extra.

  • 0

    bhutanguidance

    Bhutan is gifted with great leader and we have beautiful culture and tradition preserved till to this date. Our great king has invented the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Visiting Bhutan is greatest gift with beautiful culture and scenery.

  • 1

    mntz1128rts

    @Foxie

    You seem to know a lot about Bhutan. Is it better to go in spring, like late April or in September weatherwise?

    Both Spring and Autumn are relatively mild (unless you're planning on doing some hiking and trekking up the mountains). I think the only real difference is that it tends to be rainier around September. However I think that's also when there are the most festivals taking place.

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