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Bhutan welcomes 120 international guests on four flights into Paro

Published on: September 28th, 2022, by Aue Therchen

Bhutan welcomes 120 international guests at the Paro International Airport on four flights from Nepal, Delhi, & Bangkok during a reopening

September 23, 2022 (Thimphu, Bhutan):

A total of 120 foreigners and 67 Bhutanese guests arrived at Paro International Airport today, on flights from Kathmandu, Delhi, Bangkok, and Calcutta.  The flights mark the official arrival of the first international guests to Bhutan since borders were closed almost 2.5 years ago. 

Dozens of guests arrive from around the world with hundreds of stories.

All guests arriving at Paro Airport today were met by VIPs, officials, and dignitaries, as well as management and hosts of the Tourism Council of Bhutan. The guests were welcomed with warm Bhutanese hospitality, including gift bags, music, dancing, and refreshments.

A total of 28 guests from today’s arrivals were paying the full USD 200 Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), with 48 guests paying the old SDF of USD 65, and 16 guests paying Nu. 1,200. Other guests were on official Bhutan visa.

Bhutan signage

“Today Bhutan opens its doors to the world and it’s such a pleasure and honor to welcome guests back to our beautiful country,” said Dorji Dradhul, Director General of the Tourism Council of Bhutan. “Days like this reflect the pure joy of working in tourism, of loving travel, and of believing that life is more enriched with travel,” he added.

Gro Holm Rypestoel who arrived on the flight from Kathmandu is a 75-year-old guest from Norway. She was one of the first international guests to Bhutan in 1974 when she visited the country to help set up a school for the blind. Since that time, she has been back to Bhutan many times and today she was met at the airport by one of her former students.

Eva and Batya Harari, 76 years old, arrived on the flight from Delhi today, and are identical twins who live in Germany and Israel. When they were 14 years, old they both had the same dream – to visit Bhutan – and today marks their first visit to the country.  They will spend 11 days traveling from Paro to Thimphu and Punakha and Gangtey. “It’s always been our dream to visit Bhutan. When the plane was landing we couldn’t breathe from excitement; we were crying from happiness,” the twins said.

Paro airport signage
Bhutan receives visitors after almost two & a half years

Karen Darke, MBE, arrived on the flight from Bangkok today. Originally, from Scotland, Karen is a British paralympic cyclist, Para triathlete, adventurer, and author. She is also a Paralympic gold medallist for the UK and she’s on a trip across Bhutan in a wheelchair, hand-cycling from Paro to Bumthang in 12 days. She is joined by 10 other people in a group who will cycle and walk with her.  Her mission is to help people find ‘inner gold’ or inner wisdom and happiness.

Priti, from Calcutta, was the last guest off the last plane to arrive for the day (from Calcutta). She is here for a month to visit her husband who works in a hotel in Thimphu. Auspiciously, her T-shirt displayed the word ‘Believe’, the tagline for Bhutan’s new brand.

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opening cermony

Bhutan’s new brand ‘Believe’, which was unveiled during an event yesterday attended by H.E. Dr. Lotay Tshering, the Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan, was prominently displayed at the airport during the arrival celebrations.  ‘Brand Bhutan’ aims to capture the optimism and renewed ambition of the kingdom as it opens its doors to guests once again, as well as communicating its promise and plans for its young citizens.  Bhutan’s new tagline, Believe, reflects this determined focus on the future, as well as the transformative journeys experienced by its guests.