Few days back a foreigner took to social media platform, Twitter, tweeting: Sad. Travel operator suggests you “avoid tussles with the [Bhutanese] younger, raucous boys if you don’t want to get into trouble.
Is this what the image of our youth has become? The youth that we pride in so much that they would be the torchbearers of our future and the reverence that the future of our nation lies in their hands.
What the tweet basically meant was that foreign tourists coming in the country are admonished by tour operators to refrain from messing up with our youth if they want to avoid trouble.
Perhaps this is an indication that country’s prevailing youth issue has affected the morality of our tourism industry in dubbing the country as happy and peaceful land. In doing so, the tour operator who cautioned the foreigner was quite right to expose the declining morality brought about by some of our youth resorting to drugs and violence.
Having said this, the issue cannot be generalized to all youth. Such projection will only be wrong. But again, youth issue calls for attention. In fact there have been efforts from stakeholders to study the situation and bring about relevant interventions yet the responses seem to have missed the target.
The point here is not to discuss the youth issue which has been done extensively by policy makers, CSOs, media and the general public. The point here is to correct the reality back home when we are trying to sell our country as the land of happiness to the outside world. In other words we should prove the worth of the products we are selling without hiding any defect.
The youth issue may be subject of socio-cultural and psychological explanation, it must, however, not affect Bhutan’s potential area to showcase its unique culture and traditions as tourism products to the tourists who pay hefty tariff to visit the country.
The first places that tourists see when they come to Bhutan are Paro and Thimphu. Coincidentally, youth violence and delinquency are concentrated in these areas. The aesthetic scenes that the tourists enjoy will be diluted if they encounter such behavioral problems in the streets. God forbid, we hope tourists are not stabbed if they happen to hang out in pubs late at night.
Branding Bhutan as land of happiness can really cost the society going by how a tour operator cautioned a foreigner. It will entail moral education and behavioral change to make our streets safe and happy for the tourists. After all, we must deliver value to the product that we sell to the affluent tourists. Otherwise, youth issue can seriously stab the image of our country that the tourism industry is striving to portray.