Bhutan and Australia celebrate 15 years of diplomatic relationship

As the new year dawns, Bhutan will celebrate a special country. Bhutan will cherish the friendship it shares, the support it received all these years and the world of difference it has made to many Bhutanese.

Bhutan will commemorate its extraordinary tie with Australia in 2018.

Many have compelling stories to share of their life and experiences in Australia. The country in a hemisphere completely opposite to where Bhutan stands has offered Bhutanese priceless opportunities to enhance their knowledge as well as living.

Bhutan and Australia celebrate their 15 years of diplomatic relation. It is time to pay tribute to the government and people of Australia for the generous and sustained support, particularly in the field of human resource development in Bhutan.

While the anniversary is that of official knot, stories of the two countries go way back to early ‘60s when Bhutan became a part of Colombo Plan meeting held in Melbourne.

Bhutan’s membership in the Colombo Plan, for which Australia has been instrumental, played a significant role in establishing its presence among the members of international community. The move went a long way in reinforcing Bhutan’s sovereignty.

Later that decade, five boys headed to Perth, Western Australia, to pursue higher education. That was the beginning. Since then, more than 800 Bhutanese have received their trainings and education in various fields, thanks to Australian assistance to Bhutan’s HRD sector.

Today, many are in leadership positions, taking on important responsibilities in politics, judiciary, civil service, private and corporate sectors.

Besides the education, exposure and opportunities, those who studied in Australia have also secured lasting linkages, strengthening relationship between the two countries, far beyond formal arrangements.

Therefore, it makes all the more sense to observe the significant milestone.

The celebrations have officially kicked off with functions held in presence of Australian counterparts. Led by the Bhutan Australia Alumni Association, a book was launched that carried stories of Bhutanese associated with Australia. A film festival showcased Australian movies of various themes across many theatres in the capital.

But these are starters.

Bhutan has considered a way for the citizens of the two countries to celebrate the year together. Called the Friendship Offer, Bhutan is introducing a waiver for all Australian nationals visiting the country in the three months of June, July and August in 2018.

The Friendship Offer

It is a gesture of welcoming the Australian friends from the oceans to the high mountains of Bhutan. That way, the festivity will be heightened by way of marking the year together.

While it is understood that the visitors will have to arrange their trips through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator, in this one-time special package, many offers are on the platter.

Among others, friends from Australia can come to Bhutan with a discounted fee of USD 65 a night as opposed to mandatory minimum daily fee of USD 200 a person a night. Surcharges have been waived off for Australians while the airlines would ferry them in at fares lower than the usual.