Gross National Happiness ?
The country did not live up to my expectations. I make the comparison to the Bugatti car brand which employs a similar marketing strategy: “scarcity creates demand” and “handpick your customers through snob prices” … which is sort of a perverse “reverse-selection” that some gullible people fall for.
The Bhutan visa costs US$ 400 for a couple per day! The Uma Paro costs at least US$ 400 per day, the Amanhotel at least US$ 1.200 per day. The arrival or departure has to be by Druk Air who control a price monopoly. Add another US$ 750 minimum for flights to Paro from Delhi, Kathmandu, Bagdogra, Kolkata or Bangkok.
The country’s concept of “Gross National Happiness” must be making someone very happy and I doubt it is the country’s citizens. And I am not even mentioning the problems of the Bhutanes refugees, belief suppression and censorship (for further info read this article “Bhutan’s Hoax: Of Gross National Happiness” * from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.)
(Source: Wikipedia Gross National Happiness #Criticism)
My wonderful waiter at the hotel told me he was also playing in Bhutan’s National soccer team. They recently lost 0:17 against … Kuwait !!! Doesn’t that say it all?
In my humble opinion, Bhugattistan is not really worth the ride (just as the Veyron probably isn’t for the money). It’s for inexperienced people, who want to show off something exotic. But then, every real traveler needs to visit Bhutan once, and so did I. My personal Gross Happiness Product remained unaffected …
My flight route from Kolkata via Paro to Kathmandu
Bhutan Movie: “Travellers and Magicians”
Quotes from “Bhutan’s Hoax: Of Gross National Happiness” by Saurav J. Thapa, July 13, 2011.
The Kingdom of Bhutan – a country ruled with an iron fist by its northern-based Buddhist Drukpa monarchy and elite with a transparent façade of democracy designed to obscure the true state of affairs in that country.
… GNH has been creatively utilized as a propaganda tool by the Drukpa leadership to project an image of Bhutan as a country of smiling Buddha’s. Little do most outside observers know the dark underbelly of this seemingly innocuous portrayal. …
I had a chance to personally witness this slick Drukpa ploy to portray Bhutan as a fabled Shangri-La as a graduate student of international relations at Tufts University in Boston a few years ago. … The young Wangchuk has installed a government of hard line and racist Drukpa royalists that masquerades as a democratically elected government and continues to propagate silly ideas, foremost of which is the unscientific concept of Gross National Happiness.
In the West, many well-meaning liberals of the free Tibet/Hollywood mold have swallowed the Bhutanese government propaganda of GNH hook, line, and sinker. However, they need to exercise caution and distinguish between the legitimate aspirations of the Tibetan people and the ludicrous claims of Bhutan’s royal government that their population is one big, smiling, happy family. That is definitely not the case, as the tens of thousands of Lhotsampa refugees kicked out of their homeland and the thousands of Lhotsampas still living under a racist Drukpa regime in Bhutan can testify.
… Bhutan to this day remains a closed society that is feudal in nature and is dominated by a xenophobic Drukpa leadership that is headed by a monarchy straight out of the Middle Ages in its values and worldview. In an age of increasing interconnectedness, the Drukpa leadership insists on shutting off its people from the outside world, going so far as to restrict access to satellite television and severely limiting the access of foreigners to the country. Bhutan is not far off from North Korea in that sense.