Gross National Happiness (GNH) is doing wonders for the Bhutanese tourism industry. While Americans top the list of tourists visiting Bhutan, there has been a significant increase in the number of British tourists. Last year 2,795 British tourists visited Bhutan compared to 1,772 in 2010 – an increase of 1,023.
America is a country of vast wealth and vast anxiety. America’s high Gross National Product per person, around $50,000, and its vast net worth, around $500,000 per household, are among the highest in the world. Yet growing numbers of Americans are unhappy, unhealthy, and increasingly pessimistic. America fought for independence to secure the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, but today happiness seems out of reach to tens of millions of Americans.
It was my maiden visit to the Land of Thunder Dragon, Bhutan, and the day before heading to live in a remote village. Immersion exposure to rural poverty had by then become an indispensable feature of my official itinerary everywhere.