Poor conditions of public toilets in Bhutan continue to irk visiting tourists.
The condition of existing public toilets in Bhutan has been questioned not only by tourists, but locals as well, over the years. It is still common today to find public toilets in a mess, clogged with sticks and stones, and with no running water, despite the existence of health ministry standards and guidelines.
Japanese tour guide, Atsuko Kubo, who regularly brings tourists from the island nation to Bhutan, says that poor conditions of public toilets in Bhutan need to be addressed. She said that her clients are usually appalled at the unhygienic conditions of toilets in Bhutan. She said that, as most of her clients are elderly, the lack of public toilets is also another area concerned agencies have to address. She added that, while the issue may seem trivial, it is an important aspect of the tourist experience package.
Atsuko Kubo also said that, once a public toilet is constructed, it at least should be maintained. She pointed to public toilets constructed at Dochula, where, on a recent tour, her clients were not able to use despite paying fees.
Japanese guides also suggested that when toilets are constructed, the objective should be simple and sustainable toilets. She pointed to public toilets constructed at Jumolhari base camp, where washbasins had been constructed despite no water source being available.
“We’ll be disappointed to know our 250 USD per night, or 65 USD as royalty is misused,” she said.
The Japanese tour guide said that her company and clients had in the past repeatedly shared their views with the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB).
TCB planning and programmes division planning officer, Phuntsho Gyeltshen, said it is not the agency’s responsibility to construct toilets at locations suggested by the Japanese tourists. The Japanese guides and tourists said locations, such as Chunzom, and sightseeing places in Thimphu like the textile museum, emporium, Takin zoo, and heritage museum, among others, should have public toilets for tourist use.
Phuntsho Gyeltshen said that the individual organisations should have their own toilet facilities. He pointed out that the development and construction of toilets is the responsibility of agencies concerned in respective dzongkhags. He said this is the case in other countries. However, TCB has been taking the responsibility to some extent, and has constructed or developed toilets wherever possible.
Phuntsho Gyeltshen also pointed out that TCB’s efforts have been impeded by unavailability of land, for instance at Chunzom, and lack of ownership after completion of work, like at Dochula, which the Japanese tourists could not use recently.