Bhutan Allows Increase in Tourism

A Bhutanese monk stands in front of a large Thangkha painting at the Dratshang Kuenra Tashichho Dzong on November 6, 2008 in Thimphu, Bhutan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

The landlocked Kingdom of Bhutan has been wary of tourism in the past to preserve their preferred traditional way of living. Yesterday, Bhutan announced that it is looking to triple its annual number of visitors from 30,000 since it first opened its doors in the 1970s to 100,000 by 2012.

Sandwiched between India and China in South Asia, the kingdom is hidden in the Himalayan mountains. Known to be one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world, survey data suggests Bhutan is also one of the happiest nations as foreign influences and tourism have been restricted by the government to preserve the country's national identity and culture.

The unspoiled nation is opening its doors wider this time around, as the government is expecting to receive more tourist applications in the nearer future.

This might seem like the ideal getaway for Western tourists, but Bhutan has strict visa-issuing policies. For example, a US tourist is expected to pay anywhere between $200 to $250 in tariffs for each day spent in the kingdom. The reason? Because of a deep traditional reverence that the Bhutanese have for nature, the country is one of the leading nations in environmental preservation.

As a side note, billboards and tobacco are strictly banned in Bhutan. If you are planning a visit to the kingdom, make sure to read this informational site.