The Exclusivity Myth of Bhutan

September 18, 2019

Bhutan is famous for its government initiating its GNH, its Gross National Happiness index, this may feel like an alien ideology compared to what is happening elsewhere in the world, where people would just be happy if their governments just worked hard to represent them, rather than seemingly someone else. And yes, you can only go there for a holiday/vacation, then you have to head home to whichever country you currently live in, where the government would think of a GNH as silly, or more accurately, a true measure of their job approval, which they are sure to fail.


My apologies, I’m English and my country’s issues are obviously impacting me far more than I’ve previously let on. So what is it about Bhutan? What makes them the ones to be happy? Why do they feel like the ones that happiness needs to be measured? Can you measure it? Sorry, all these are leading questions, and if you are still with me you are probably going to guess what I’m going to say next, you have to go there, that’s the only way to find out, its also one of the easiest answers. There is a great anecdote about the Greek philosophers vs. The Royal society, the Greek philosophers would sit around for days talking about how many teeth a horse has, the members of the Royal Society walked up to the horse and counted them, they got civilisation a lot further in a much shorter amount of time.


Now, another reason to visit Bhutan is because they are putting a tax on you to persuade you not to, yup, they charge $250 a day for you to go there, see what they are doing? No, don’t come here, go to India or Nepal, you don’t want to come here, nothing to see here, please pass along. Its like a club in New York that makes sure there is a mile long queue outside and when you finally get in the club is empty, the queue makes you join it, you have to be in that queue because the queue is long and that means that whatever is at the end of the queue must be awesome. So the $250 a day barrier to entry makes you WANT to go to Bhutan, I want to go, you want to go, you want part of that exclusivity that the $250 brings. But can I tell you a secret? You don’t have to pay the $250, the $250 isn’t a tax, its a minimum spend, its a daily fee, the fee includes your hotel, guide, food, transportation and a few other things (not alcohol I’m afraid, that would be making it too easy). Now, these days try going on holiday and not spending that amount, I dare you.


So Bhutan has created an illusion of exclusivity by using capitalism in it grandest form, they put a barrier to entry up that turns off many people at the get go but only the people that REALLY want to go there delve deep enough into the details to know that the $250 actually represents something very rare these days, value for money. No wonder the Bhutanese are happy.


PS Don’t tell anyone.

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