Bhutan turns up the happiness for tourism marketing

Bhutan, the country perhaps best known for giving the world the measurement of 'gross national happiness,' is preparing to inject some happiness into its tourism marketing in an effort to boost visitors.

The Tourism Council of Bhutan announced recently that it had adapted a new global marketing effort for the Kingdom, centered around the phrase "Bhutan, happiness is a place."

Designed to differentiate the tiny country from its booming neighbors China and India, the campaign is focused on the thing from which Bhutan made its name, happiness, which the council says "has irrefutably been proven as the core and the true essence of Bhutan."

Since being coined in the 1970s by the King of Bhutan, the idea of gross national happiness has been used as a cornerstone of Bhutan government policy and has also spread to other countries as a welcome counterweight to GDP, an economic measurement.

Now, Bhutan's tourist authorities are hoping to cash in on the brand, using their new slogan with the country's blue national flower to headline a push for the upmarket tourism they are keen to develop.

Tourism to the unique towns and unspoilt jungles of Bhutan is relatively young by most standards, initiated only in 1974, and although it has grown rapidly in recent years, the government is keen to make sure that visitors don't have a noticeable impact, preferring low-key visits which contribute a lot financially.

This is perhaps why the country is marketed as one of the most exclusive destinations in the world, and tourism success is measured in the number of "high-end" tourists.

Last year, Bhutan received 40,873 "high-end tourists", just over 6,000 more leisure visitors than the year before and well over its target of 35,000 - and by 2013, the country is eyeing arrivals of 100,000 annually.

Tourist authorities, therefore, will be hoping that their new campaign strikes the perfect balance - Bhutan needs visitors, but it fiercely protects the traditions, culture and wildlife which make it unique, as one of the last bastions of a pre-globalization world.

http://www.tourism.gov.bt

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