Traders and tourism stakeholders on familiarisation trip to Bhutan
Traders and tourism stakeholders at Jaigaon — the town in Alipurduar district — on Tuesday entered Phuentsholing, which is located just across the border in Bhutan, after a gap of two-and-a-half years for a familiarisation trip.
The trip was organised by the Bhutanese government a day after the Prime Minister, Lotay Tshering, had visited the border town to oversee arrangements before the Himalayan kingdom reopens its four land borders which connect India on Friday.
The Indian delegation, which also comprised elected representatives, political leaders and government officials, was briefed on the new changes in the entry and exit rules of individuals — both Bhutanese and foreign nationals — into Bhutan through the land borders.
On September 23, the movement of people will resume through the land borders after a gap of 30 months.
The delegation, along with representatives of Bhutan India Friendship Association, visited the newly built pedestrian terminal — an integrated facility for the entry and exit of people.
The delegation also held a meeting with the Bhutanese authorities for an hour.
“The trip was very effective. We could get our doubts cleared as the Bhutan government has come up with certain changes in the entry and exit rules. We are eagerly waiting for Friday when the gates will reopen,” said Ramashankar Gupta, secretary, Jaigaon Merchant Association.
In the past few days, members of the business community at Jaigaon, who move into Phuentsholing multiple times a day for various reasons, were perturbed as Bhutan introduced a pre-registration system for anybody entering Bhutan. “We were concerned about how many times we have to register because we move through the border frequently. Today, the Bhutanese authorities told us that one needs to register only once. This is a relief for us,” said Gupta.
Sources said once a person registered himself online, a QR code would be generated. While entering or exiting Bhutan through the land borders, the Bhutanese authorities will scan the code.
“It is a simple process to monitor movements of individuals entering or exiting the country,” said a Jaigaon resident.