Who is Dorji Dhradhul ?

Mr.Dorji Dhradhul is the former Director General of the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

He served as Dzongda (Governor) of Gasa district for almost four years and has worked in various capacities in the fields of agriculture research, policy and development. Mr. Dhradhul was also the founding Director of the Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives and the founding Registrar of Cooperatives in Bhutan. He published a number of articles on subjects of contemporary relevance in the National newspaper, including a novel title Escapades: Awakenings.

Detailed Profile:

Dorji Dhradhul was born in the beautiful capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu in November 1965. He went to school in Punakha and attended higher secondary studies in the far east of Bhutan in Sherubtse, Kanglung.

Growing up in Thimphu and Punakha at a time when agriculture was the predominant way of life in Bhutan, Dorji developed a keen interest in science and agriculture from his early years. It was therefore natural that he chose to pursue his undergraduate studies in BSc. Agriculture in Sri Lanka and Nepal, and later completed his Masters in Agricultural Extension from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

He began his career in the country’s coveted civil service in the agriculture sector in 1992. As one of the few young officers leading important developments in the agriculture sector, Dorji traveled across all twenty districts of Bhutan. He carried out numerous reviews and surveys that contributed significantly to the development of the Cooperatives Act of Bhutan in 2001. Dorji went on to become the founding director of the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives and also the first Registrar of Cooperatives in Bhutan in 2013.

In 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests recognized Dorji for his valuable contributions towards biodiversity conservation in Bhutan. In 2015, he was appointed as the Dzongda (Governor) of Gasa District, one of the remotest districts in the Kingdom literally known as the land of happiness. 

During his four-year stint as the Gasa Dzongda, he initiated groundbreaking programs in the district, the success of which resonated across the country.  Following the command of His Majesty The King, Dorji established the Royal Highland Festival, the first of its kind in the country. The festival celebrates the unique culture and lifestyles of the Bhutanese highlands centering around the unique semi-nomadic highland community of Laya in Gasa. Today, the Royal Highland Festival is an annual feature that attracts hundreds of tourists from around the world.

One of his notable achievements as the Governor of Gasa is the construction of a temple in remote Lunana, which is located eight days’ walk from the district headquarters. On the royal command of His Majesty, Dorji supervised the construction of the temple, transforming a derelict traditional Bhutanese house into a spiritual edifice and place of worship for the people of Lunana. Today, this temple standing at 4100 masl has become the world highest temple dedicated to Palden Lhamo, a foremost guardian deity of the country. 

He also pioneered various socio-economic development initiatives in the district, some of which include the first community-owned company with spring water bottling plant ‘Gasa Soechu’ as its maiden enterprise. He has reinforced organic farming and its organized marketing.

With a passion for reading, writing, and traveling, Dorji has visited over twenty countries and has published several papers on themes spanning agriculture, sustainable development, rural-urban migration, and cooperatives, among others.  A published author, Dorji’s novel ‘Escapades Awakening’ is a riveting story that delves into the harsh life of women and children and celebrates their spirit of survival and strength. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17912232-escapades-awakenings)

In 2019, Dorji was entrusted with the responsibilities of the Director-General of the Tourism Council of Bhutan,  and with it, the important task to promote Bhutan as one of the most exclusive tourism destinations in the world based on the national tourism policy of ‘High-value Low volume’ envisioned by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan. 

This visionary tourism policy goes way back to 1974 when Bhutan first opened its doors to the world, welcoming its first batch of international tourists. Based on the development philosophy of Gross National Happiness, introduced by the Fourth King of Bhutan, the tourism policy of ‘High-value Low volume’ has guided Bhutan’s approach to tourism much before sustainable tourism and responsible tourism concepts were introduced in the global tourism sphere.

Within one year of his joining the Tourism Council of Bhutan, Dorji has been swift in taking the industry forward.  The Lonely Planet declared Bhutan as the Best country to visit in 2020. Bhutan also won two back-to-back PATWA awards for Best Destination for Happy Tourism and Best Professional Destination Marketing. Bhutan also received the Sustainable Destinations’ Earth Award in Berlin, Germany. Tourism Council of Bhutan has been also recognised as one of the  World’s 75 Most Innovative Organizations in Tourism Policy for 2021 by the Apolitical in partnership with Mastercard and the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

As a major economic sector, tourism was identified as one of the flagship programs in the 12th national Five Year Plan.

While tourism has come to a standstill due to the global pandemic, Dorji has been leading several initiatives with his team at the Tourism Council of Bhutan to recover and restart tourism and also support the livelihood of people in the industry through welfare grants provided by His Majesty, job creation, and commercial farming projects.  

Dorji has also been using the current travel ban to work on improving and renovating several walking trails, developing new tourist infrastructures, tourism products and services and providing skills training to members of the tourism sector. 

As the Director-General of Tourism Council, his vision is to take tourism to the top, in terms of revenue generation as well as making Bhutan the number one travel destination in the world.  He hopes the journeys visitors make to Bhutan will make them reflect on the importance of living in harmony with nature, and their experience of the living, breathing, thriving culture amidst pristine forests, virgin mountains, and fast-flowing rivers, simple life and genuine warm smiles will make them champions of sustainable and responsible tourism in all their other journeys in the world.  

Dorji who values being a good human being lives in Thimphu with his wife Deki who is an entrepreneur and their two children – a 18-year-old daughter and a nine year-old son. He loves spending his time at home, narrating stories, playing games, and cooking for his family.