Druk Air, Tashi Air ( Bhutan Airlines ) Helicopter Service, Hotels like Taj Tashi, Le Meridien etc are very costly investments but essential assets that enhance national convenience and prestige. And when such amenities are shouldered by the private, the load becomes lighter for the nation.
Long ago, there was BGTS ( Bhutan Government Transport Service ). It represented movability for the masses and hence social connectivity. Not a commercial profit oriented enterprise but a pivotal engine of national connectivity. An active symbol of nation awakening together. I still believe that such a basic transport service should be set up by the state covering all routes as means of affordable transport facility for the needy. The private bus service agencies can provide high quality mini bus services in commercially viable sectors.
Air services to India and destinations even if only to few other Countries widen national horizon. Promotes international connectivity thus bringing Bhutan and rest of the outer world closer. Hotels of international recognition and standards facilitate international conferences, workshops and seminars in Bhutan. Especially convenient when state visits happen. These establishments are long term investments that would take years to generate profit but fill national needs immediately upon operation.
Druk Air was established by the Government and still owned 100% by the Government. And its contribution to national sovereign status is immeasurable. Tashi Air and Taj Tashi Hotel are privately owned Companies of Bhutanese investors. And Hotel Meridien of Thimphu and Paro are said to be joint ventures between Bhutanese and Indian investors. Bhutanese investors are the larger shareholders. The names Taj and Meridien are of the hotel chain management groups of known international brand who bring into the country high quality services and standard of Management.
They manage and operate the hotels at a fee and dictate the kind of facilities and qualities that are hall marks of all such international hotels managed under their brand logo. The details goes down to kind of specifications for bed sheet and cutleries for dinning. The ultimate loss and profit are passed on to the investors who owns the hotels.
I admire the endurance and fiscal stamina of such long term investors in airlines and hotels in Bhutan. The market is limitted and scope of additional income from related peripheral activities is near nil. Actually in terms of commercial profit, in Bhutanese context, it is better to invest in a shopping mall than big name hotel.
Helicopter Service within a mountainous nation is a must and if managed efficiently, the gestation period is short. Not at all like an airline. I hope few more helicopters will be pressed into service. The operation cost will come down per helicopter and rate could also become more affordable. Helicopter transport is cheaper both financially and convenient time wise. So much travel time is saved and ground hassle avoided. And during emergency, there is nothing better than instant reach. To have the means to deliver or be there at the moment required is also a strength of a nation.