| Usha Drukpa, Thimphu
If things go as planned, soon there will be a Regional Tourism Office (RTO) in the east in order to facilitate and support tourism development and promotion in east and central Dzongkhags.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) will be working together on the plan and is also one of the recommendations of the Performance Audit Report (PAR) which was partially implemented.
As per the report the Performance Audit Report on tourism sector was conducted with an overall objective to ascertain and report on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the operation and management of tourism sector.
The Royal Audit Authority had highlighted seven recommendation based on the observations and findings. The recommendations are; TCB should prioritize the finalization of Tourism Policy and Act; strengthen coordination and monitoring mechanism. Information sharing mechanism should be instituted for TCB, DRC and RTIO; regulate regional tourists in conformity to its principle of ‘High Value, Low Impact’; institute proper internal control mechanism in tariff regulations and review its pricing structure on a timely basis to make it more responsive to the pace of global economic developments.
The recommendations were intended to enhance greater accountability, improved decision-making and effective implementation of plans and programmes in the tourism sector.
However, the committee had observed that out of seven recommendations, only four were implemented. They are; TCB should strengthen coordination and monitoring mechanism; regulating regional tourists in conformity to its principle of ‘High Value, Low Impact’ and reviewing its pricing structure timely to make it more responsive to the pace of global economic development.
While three recommendations were partially implemented, they are prioritizing the finalization of Tourism Policy and Act; which was reported that it is in the process of drafting a tourism policy for submission to GNHC during the current financial year which will be followed by drafting tourism bill during the first year of 12th FYP. Reports states that both the documents are in drafting stage.
The report also states that TCB should institute proper internal control mechanism in tariff regulations. With regard to it, the RAA reiterates that the visa to be endorsed based on the tariff deposit made group wise and not based on the availability of usable amount balance in tour operators’ account maintained with TCB.
Further, controls mechanism instituted, if any, on transfer of funds out of the tour operators accounts and ensure adequate controls on flow of foreign exchange from the tour operators’ accounts has not been indicated.
The third recommendation was that TCB should integrate tourism activities in Dzongkhag Plans; with regard to integration of tourism activities in Dzongkhag plan, it was reported that with support from GNHC will initiate consolidation of 12 FYP programmes of Local Government and Dzongkhags with TCB plans to integrate tourism activities in the plans.
However, details of other actions taken to promote integration of tourism activities in Dzongkhags Plans are yet to be implemented stated the report.
As per the report, a total of 74 guides were monitored in the month of September, a total of 10 accommodation facilities and restaurants were monitored in August 2017 and 14 existing tour operators has been monitored and 77 new tour operators have been inspected and registered with TCB this July.
Meanwhile, a meeting to discuss and develop mechanisms to ensure regular sharing or dissemination of information was held between TCB, DRC and RTIO on July 18 this year.