Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (fortress) sits on ridge overlooking Wangdue valley. Dzongs are Bhutan's 17th century architectural marvels and remain a popular tourist site.

 

Thimphu, 26 June 2020: The Gross National Happiness Commission and UNDP Bhutan signed the project “Protecting Livelihoods and Reinforcing the Tourism Sector in Bhutan” today in Thimphu. The USD 153, 178 (Nu 11, 488, 350) project will be implemented by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) over the course next seven months. It will support the Government’s Tourism Contingency Plan (TCP) and focus on reinforcing tourism and protecting livelihoods of people working in the sector.

About 170 people working in the Tourism Sector and impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will directly benefit from the project, along with their family members. They will be engaged in the Enhancement of Existing Tourism Facilities and Reskilling and Upskilling of People Working in the Tourism Sector.  Through the project, the UNDP will also support TCB in the Promotion of Tourism post COVID-19. 

Tourism remains among the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic in Bhutan. The government’s recent Rapid Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (RSEIA) carried out with support from UNDP and other UN agencies showed that almost one third of respondents lost their jobs or have been put on unpaid leave. The study found that while the impact of COVID-19 pandemic is hard hitting, the coping capacity of the affected is limited.

“Our country’s health and economy including tourism is being impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic, however, on the positive side, this situation has parallelly highlighted the preciousness of His Majesty The King’s leadership and the importance for all citizens to come together as one close knit family, including the development partners, neighboring countries and the world at large. This timely support from UNDP Bhutan to tourism is a real example of such spirit of solidarity," said Dorji Dradhul, the Director General for the Tourism Council of Bhutan. 

 

TCB Director General Dorji Dradhul, GNHC Secretary Thinley Namgyel and UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota

 

“Tourism being one of the main drivers of the economy and since the impact of COVID-19 is widespread and cross-cutting, we look forward to building partnerships and collaboration in ensuring adequate mobilization of resources to mitigate the adverse impacts of COVID-19,” said GNHC. “Through this project, we can engage the employees of the tourism sector including women who lost their livelihood due to COVID-19.”

UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities of the tourism sector worldwide. "Our partnership with TCB looks at both short-term and long-term interventions aimed at providing immediate support for people whose livelihoods have been affected, while at the same time building the resilience of the tourism sector to such future shocks."

The project is part of UNDP’s support to the National COVID-19 Response and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN COVID-19 MPTF). 

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