It’s a Dog’s Life: International Tourists’ Perceptions of the Stray Dog Population of Bhutan.
Keywords:Kingdom of Bhutan, stray dogs, barking, tourist perceptions.
AbstractThis study investigates the international tourists’ perception of the stray dog population of Bhutan as little or no mention of the increasing stray dog population and their impact on tourism has been documented. After personally visiting the Kingdom on many occasions, it is evident that the stray dog population is increasing in dog numbers in major cities. The problems arising are negative comments by tourists relating to the stray dog population that are starting to appear in social media that may impact the visitor experience and the perception of Bhutan’s tourism industry. Veterinary science is aware of both increasing dog populations and the control of diseases such as Rabies however the author can find no evidence regarding challenges for the tourism industry. The problem is aided by no local veterinary clinics, no laws regarding dog governance, little funding for sterilization programs and being predominately a Buddhist country that cannot ‘cull’ animals. Using qualitative analysis from international tourist focus groups who were visiting Bhutan, this study highlights the perceptions of tourists regarding the stray dog population and how it may impact on visitor expectations. The paper suggests options that local government, Bhutanese nationals and visitors can do to assist the issue based on visitor feedback. Future research may include comparisons with other cities or countries to examine if it is a global issue or unique to Bhutan.
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