The Tourism Board of Bhutan (TCB) validates and assesses tourism service providers – tour operators and hoteliers – on their readiness to accommodate tourists under the new tariff regime effective September 23 this year.
Hotels and homestays will be assessed on dimensions such as services, safety and security, sustainable practices, hygiene and cleanliness, infrastructure, quality and offering Bhutanese experiences authentic.
The assessment will take place in two stages: desk review of applications and documents, and only those applications found to meet the requirements based on the desk review will be confirmed by on-site observation.
According to TCB, all service providers will be assessed, validated and certified. They will be allowed to receive tourists and conduct tourism activities after passing the assessment.
For example, tour guides will need to be certified by the council as competent guides. This assessment will serve as the basis for license and certification renewal.
TCB announced this week that hotel and tour operator validation will begin from July 27. Given the requirement for all guests to stay in TCB-certified accommodations, the readiness assessment will only be conducted for hotels 3 stars and above.
TCB officials said service providers must meet all requirements set by the Board.
Tour operators must have valid licenses, proper office setup, websites, service rules and payment policy and facility.
“The company should develop its own service rules and its own policy regarding tour packages. Since different tour operators will promote different services at different rate,” a TCB official said. However, he said the criteria are subject to change in the future.
For hotels, parameters include directional signage, main entrance, parking sign, and access road from an exterior approach.
Hotels must have all the infrastructure and services at the reception level, common toilets, guest room, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, rear area and customer safety.
Hotels must also have reception staff, at least 2 Mbps Wi-Fi, reservation system, concierge, payment systems such as Swift Card and payment gateway and service policy.
Hotels must also have sustainable practices such as water or energy saving messages or signs, organic or local products, waste reduction practices and minimal use of plastic product.
The official said that for homestays, they should provide an authentic community experience which should be unique so that tourists never forget their stay and experience.
A TCB official said the validation will not be a one-time exercise. All service providers will need to continue to upgrade their services and request validation as soon as they are ready.
TCB will also issue a separate notification after October 15.