Taking Tourism To The Top – a very catchy slogan. But for the slogan to be translated into reality, it needs a vehicle to ride on. To be more precise, the industry needs to ride on another even catchier slogan – On The Wings Of The Dragon. And there is where it hits a cul-de-sac. The journey ends even before it begins. Taking Tourism To The Top is a non-starter; unless the controlling interest – the government – sheds the accountant’s mentality and begins to get a grasp of the pivotal role the national flag carrier must play in the tourism industry’s journey to the top.
Druk Air is key to the success of the tourism industry. On The Wings Of The Dragon must ride the tourism industry, including every one of its ancillary services. Like His Majesty said in his 111th National Day Speech;“If, in the next 10 to 15 years, we achieve all our national objectives, the credit will go to our public servants. However, if we fail, it will mean that the public servants have failed.”
In the same vein if the tourism industry soars to the top, the credit will go to the Druk Air but if it fails to do so, the blame must go entirely to the carrier as well.
Bringing Druk Air into the DHI fold was a clear case of missing the forest for the trees. DHI is a conglomerate of commercial entities whose sole mandate is to generate profit. By the very nature of its function, the Druk Air is a breed apart – from other entities that go to make the DHI group. The Druk Air has a responsibility that is at a higher plane than those of other DHI companies.
If the tourism industry’s journey to the top must gain momentum, the first step will have to be to de-link the Druk Air from the DHI group and declare it a non-commercial entity. It must be called upon to carry out and perform its primary responsibilities – The3S: Service, Safety and Security. Thereafter, we must require the Druk Air to rationalize its fares.
The Druk Air has the capability to single-handedly thwart every effort the country makes – towards taking the country’s most vital and progressive industry to the top. By the same token, it also has the potential to be the major driver in the industry’s march towards the top. Sadly, the airline is currently going through a period of misguided perception. It is made to believe that it must make profits – even if it has to come at the cost of our national interest.
There is a need to make the airline realize that the pursuit of one single entity to make profit stands in the way of the progress of a dozen other entities. That is not correct – not particularly when the airline is a national flag carrier.
The Druk Air must act as the strong, able limb that strengthens the body – which is the tourism industry. Because if the limb fails, the body will wobble and fall.
The writer is an ardent blogger and the Charter Member of the Rotary Club of Thimphu.