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Tourism Takes Hit in Bhutan

Tourism in Bhutan, one of the largest industries in the country, is feeling the impact of the global economic crisis.

Tourism in Bhutan, one of the largest industries in the country, is feeling the impact of the global economic crisis. The number of people visiting the country has dropped by 30 percent so far this year. Not only is the number of people who visit falling, but the average length of stay for tourists is also decreasing from twelve nights to seven or eight nights. Yangphel, which was visited by 12,000 people last year, has only seen about 260 in 2009. As tourism continues to fall, companies that rely on tourism are expected to downsize their operations and may be forced to shutdown completely.

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Bhutan Budget Increase

The annual budget of Bhutan has been increased by Nu8.385 billion for the fiscal year 2008-2009.

The annual budget of Bhutan has been increased by Nu8.385 billion for the fiscal year 2008-2009. The majority of the funds for the increase come from India as there has been approval for a grant of Nu5.545 billion and outside donors and grants account for another Nu584 million. The remainder of the budget increase is to come from internal sources including an increase of domestic revenue stemming from the Tala project authority and taxes from the Bhutan Power Corporation. There has also been an increase in the capital budget which is to go towards infrastructural projects of in the areas of schools, water and health care. As the budget has increased, along with it, expenditures have also increased. However, the majority of the funds within the budget are to go towards development projects. The majority of the funds provided by India are to go into rural development projects including road and electrical development, as well as information and communications, cultural renovations, law and order services, pre-employment programs and hospital projects.

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Bhutan Orange Production and Prices Hit New High

The Bhutan Agricultural Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) released its season ending numbers for orange exports and reported new high in production and price.

The Bhutan Agricultural Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) released its season ending numbers for orange exports and reported new high in production and price. 17, 208 metric tones of Mandarin were exported to Bangladesh and 1.395 metric tones were shipped to India. Bhutan exporters were happy with the steadily raising prices which settled near USD 18 a box for "big oranges". This was a drastic change from last year when orange prices were USD 9 per box.

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Bhutan Lifts Ban on Indian Poultry

Bhutan recently lifted its ban on poultry and egg suppliers from India and West Bengal.

Bhutan recently lifted its ban on poultry and egg suppliers from India and West Bengal. Previously, Bhutan had been a major buyer; however, last July a ban was imposed as there was a reported outbreak of bird flu in India. India was recently declared virus free and the ban was lifted on November 21. Officials of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority have said the ban was but in place as a precaution and the same was done when there was an outbreak in Maharashtra. New restrictions are now going to be place on Indian suppliers, such as the exclusion of head, feet, visceral organs and the meat must be packed in plastic and contain the processing date, expiry date and weight.

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Bhutan Strives to Promote Private Sector Growth

Various companies, including hydropower, banking and minerals, will join together in Bhutan in the countries new grouping of 14 companies striving to promote growth in the countries private sector.

Various companies, including hydropower, banking and minerals, will join together in Bhutan in the countries new grouping of 14 companies striving to promote growth in the countries private sector. The government has either a full or partial stake in all the companies. The grouping will form the Druk Holding and Investments, and according to chairperson, Om Pradham, "will not only complement the government's efforts to accelerate development activities, but also provide critical support and services to the growth of the private sector".

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Bhutan to recieve Danish Support

On Monday, an agreement was signed between Bhutan's Planning secretary, Karma Tshieem and Henrik Neilson, head of the Danish liaison office, to provide Bhutan with DKK140 million

On Monday, an agreement was signed between Bhutan's Planning secretary, Karma Tshieem and Henrik Neilson, head of the Danish liaison office, to provide Bhutan with DKK140 million. The money is for the 10 year plan within the health and education sector. The majority of the money, 76 percent, will go towards assisting the health and education sector, while 11 percent will be allotted for vocational training. Denmark has been providing assistance to Bhutan's health sector since 1989 and in 2003 began helping the education sector.

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Bluewater Systems Helps Bhutan Update Telecom

Bluewater Systems secured a deal to supply Bhutan Telecom with new back-up systems, that will attempt to relieve the decade old system of monks traveling across the Himalayas carrying magnetic tapes to the capitol of Thimphu.

Bluewater Systems secured a deal to supply Bhutan Telecom with new back-up systems, that will attempt to relieve the decade old system of monks traveling across the Himalayas carrying magnetic tapes to the capitol of Thimphu. Bhutan and New Zealand are the only countries thus far to have installed Bluewater systems. Mr Dubash of Bluewater Systems, which has just struck deals with the Philippines and Tanzania, has said, "These countries all face similar challenges, often having an aging telecommunications infrastructure, difficult physical access due to terrain and size, and a lack of financial resources. But at the same time they are under pressure to deliver modern technology including Internet access to their populations." Bluewater Systems hopes they can provide interim support while the countries can take the time to make bigger decisions on how to update their systems.

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Bhutanese to Compute in Native Dzongkha Language with Linux

Bhutan’s Department of Information and Technology (DIT) has developed an operating system called the “Dzongkha Debian Linux.” Officially launched on August 28, the Dzongkha Debian Linux can be installed on any type of computer and, after some revisions and updates, has been engineered to be more stable, according to the head developer of the project, Pema Geley. The Dzongkha Linux is a much cheaper and more flexible solution to fit the computing needs of Bhutan instead of the initial project of incorporating the Dzongkha Unicode into Microsoft’s Vista operating systemâ€"a project later deemed too costly.

Bhutan's Department of Information and Technology (DIT) has developed an operating system called the "Dzongkha Debian Linux." Officially launched on August 28, the Dzongkha Debian Linux can be installed on any type of computer and, after some revisions and updates, has been engineered to be more stable, according to the head developer of the project, Pema Geley. The Dzongkha Linux is a much cheaper and more flexible solution to fit the computing needs of Bhutan instead of the initial project of incorporating the Dzongkha Unicode into Microsoft's Vista operating systemâ€"a project later deemed too costly.

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Lower Agriculture Yields Mean Higher Prices for Bhutan’s Farmers

Cold weather and rain pattern disruptions in Bhutan have severely cut agriculture yields for some cash crops. By comparing this year’s figures provided by auction yard officials of the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB), one notices that the total quantity of Bhutan’s largest cash crops, apples and potatoes, have dropped significantly relative to last year. In the words of a FCB official, “The drop is almost 70 percent for apple and 30 percent for potato,” demonstrated in the FCB records of 3859 metric tons (MT) of potatoes and 268 MT of apples had reached the yard between June to August last year; whereas this year, only 2601 MT of potatoes and 84 MT of apples reached the yard.

Cold weather and rain pattern disruptions in Bhutan have severely cut agriculture yields for some cash crops. By comparing this year's figures provided by auction yard officials of the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB), one notices that the total quantity of Bhutan's largest cash crops, apples and potatoes, have dropped significantly relative to last year. In the words of a FCB official, "The drop is almost 70 percent for apple[s] and 30 percent for potato[es]," demonstrated in the FCB records of 3859 metric tons (MT) of potatoes and 268 MT of apples had reached the yard between June to August last year; whereas this year, only 2601 MT of potatoes and 84 MT of apples reached the yard.

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India Luring Tourists to Bhutan’s Dooars as Top Leisure Destination

As the Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) held at Netaji Indoor Stadium commenced in Kolkata, representatives from the Union Ministers for Tourism and Culture, India’s Ministry of Tourism, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), among many others were in attendance to illuminate Bhutan’s Dooars Valley region as a popular tourist destination. West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC), for example, has increased their offerings of package tours in Bhutan and Jaldapara to lure travelers to the distinct culture and natural beauty of places like Green Dooars. Several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries pepper the Dooars region, which helps drive up inflows Indian and International tourism money and ultimately makes the region an important contributor to the economy and local labor markets.

As the Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) held at Netaji Indoor Stadium commenced in Kolkata, representatives from the Union Ministers for Tourism and Culture, India's Ministry of Tourism, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) and Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), among many others were in attendance to illuminate Bhutan's Dooars Valley region as a popular tourist destination. West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC), for example, has increased their offerings of packaged tours in Bhutan and Jaldapara to lure travelers to the distinct culture and natural beauty of places like Green Dooars. Several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries pepper the Dooars region, which helps drive up inflows of Indian and International tourism money and ultimately makes the region an important contributor to the economy and local labor markets.

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Bhutan: Mongar District Experiences Investment in Infrastructure

Through investments into the local infrastructure by the Bhutanese government at the cost of over BTN 2.5 million, residents of Ngatshang Gewog under Mongar Dazongkhag now have access to safe drinking water from the Kuri Chhu river. According to sources, the people of Farnas and Bakhlumzor villages had to walk for about an hour to procure safe drinking water. Also, the construction of a new vegetable market shed in the Gewog has also been completed by the Dzongkhag Agriculture Marketing Unit with funds from the Agriculture Marketing and Enterprise promotion program at Khangma in Tashigang.

Through investments into the local infrastructure by the Bhutanese government at the cost of over BTN 2.5 million, residents of Ngatshang Gewog under Mongar Dazongkhag now have access to safe drinking water from the Kuri Chhu river. According to sources, the people of Farnas and Bakhlumzor villages had to walk for about an hour to procure safe drinking water. Also, the construction of a new vegetable market shed in the Gewog has also been completed by the Dzongkhag Agriculture Marketing Unit with funds from the Agriculture Marketing and Enterprise promotion program at Khangma in Tashigang.

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