The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) has initiated an Employment Support Scheme for people working in the tourism industry, adversely affected by the travel ban in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The TCB opened the registration for the employment scheme on 29th March and already around 500 people have registered.
The scheme will provide temporary jobs to affected people until the travel restriction is lifted and the tourism sector returns to normalcy. The jobs will be provided in infrastructure and manufacturing, survey, training, re-skilling and waste management. They will be paid a monthly salary of Nu.8000 to Nu.45,000.
The tourism industry, which is the second-highest revenue earner for Bhutan, has faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector employs over 50,000 people and many are freelancers and drivers who depend completely on the tourism sector for their livelihood.
Damcho Rinzin, the Deputy Chief Marketing Officer of TCB said, “The scheme includes everybody working in the tourism sector. Initially, we were thinking of full-time employees but we realized that it has to be comprehensive.”
He said that TCB is also allowing people to register even if they are not directly related to tourism.
Although people in the tourism sector have welcomed the scheme, they are skeptical about its sustainability.
Sonam Wangchuk, the Chairman of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan said, “I feel that it will be beneficial, the only concern is how long it can be kept in place. If it is for three to four months, it is doable but we are concerned if it goes beyond that time frame.”
While it is uncertain when the tourism industry in Bhutan will get back to normal but for now, the Employment Support Scheme presents a glimmer of hope to thousands of Bhutanese affected in the tourism sector.
The Employment Support Scheme will begin as soon as the government implements the Economic Stimulus plan.