Tour operators and guides optimistic of reviving business as govt lifts requirement of RT-PCR test for incoming travelers

Tour operators, guides and other stakeholders in the tourism sector are looking forward to revive their businesses as the government decides to do away with RT-PCR test requirements for incoming travellers from Friday. The government announced the relaxation of COVID restriction last evening stating that the end of the pandemic is in sight with high vaccination coverage and as the severity of the virus wanes.

Inbound travellers can enter the country without testing for COVID-19 from Friday when Bhutan reopens its international borders. However, all individuals above the age of 12 entering Bhutan may have to take random RT-PCR tests at entry points as part of COVID-19 surveillance for new variants.

This has come as good news for some stakeholders such as operators, handicrafts association and the guides association of Bhutan. According to them, this will make things convenient which will attract more visitors.

“Since we are reopening, it also provides opportunities to guides because then if there is no Covid protocol, we feel that it’s safer and there won’t be much of the restrictions. Otherwise, prior to that when we had five days of quarantine and before that when we had 14 days quarantine, even when on the tour we had lots of restrictions, it was very difficult to disseminate information,” said Garab Dorji, Founder of Guides Association of Bhutan.

The news release from the Prime Minister’s office said the COVID situation in the country is under control and that evidence so far suggests it is safe to consider the relaxations.

The employers of foreign workers and day workers have to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated. The news release says unvaccinated individuals can get vaccines from the health ministry upon paying some amount.

Anyone who received two doses of any COVID-19 vaccines is considered fully vaccinated except for Johnson and Johnson for which a single dose is considered as fully vaccinated.

Individuals testing positive will have to isolate for five days without having to test at the end of the isolation period.

The government is also discontinuing the escort services currently provided to travelers in the border areas.

And the use of face masks is now recommended for individuals with flu-like symptoms and people with underlying health conditions.

Phub Gyem

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