Bhutan. On April 28-29, Bhutan hosted for the first time a summit between the South Asian countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Bhutan has been a member since SAARC was formed in 1985, but had previously refused to hold the summit because of the country’s lack of infrastructure. The fact that the meeting was now held in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu showed that the previously isolated country has been given an active role in regional cooperation. The country’s prime minister Jigme Thinley said that the hostilities would strengthen the image of Bhutan as a sovereign, independent, responsible and equal member state of SAARC. Other members of the cooperation body are India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan, which were elected in 2007.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Bhutan has a population of 754,394 (2018). Bhutan, which has always restricted tourism to the country, plans to increase the number of tourists from the current around 30,000 to 100,000 in 2012. This was announced by Prime Minister Thinley in September. Bhutan began to attract tourists in 1975, limiting the number of visitors to preserve the country’s traditions and special features and to prevent environmental degradation. Tourists are not allowed to travel or roam freely. Rock climbing has been banned because the mountains are considered sacred. Despite tripling the number of visitors, the guidelines should be the same as before, Thinley assured. Tourists may only come in smaller groups and should have minimal impact on the environment and culture. All visitors must pay a tourist fee of US $ 200-250 per day.