Rising incomes across Asia in the last decade have helped create millions of new tourists, eager to explore foreign places. Bhutan, an Asian nation that has seen relatively few international visitors, is hoping to dramatically boost its tourism industry and provide a vital jolt to its economy.
- AUDIO: Since few Americans will ever get to visit Bhutan, NPR's Mary Kay Magistad went for us.
Guests are welcomed by a Bhutanese traditional song of greeting as they arrive at the hotel in the capital Thimphu. The kingdom, with its snow capped ranges and forested valleys, is preparing to draw more travelers interested in its Mahayana [Vajrayana lamaism] Buddhist faith and traditional artwork, distinctive architecture, forested treks, and crisp clean air.
With a population of just 700,000, Bhutan [until recently the last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom, now handed over to modernity and Western-influenced governing] is braced between Asia’s giants of India and China. Officials here have long sought to protect local culture from the influence of foreign visitors. More
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