22 August 2019. Her Excellency, the Austrian Ambassador to Bhutan, Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer hosted a reception at the Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH). Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck graced the event as the Guest of Honour.
Numerous Ministers of the Royal Government and Bhutanese dignitaries participated in the reception on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Bhutan. Austrian musicians entertained the guests with traditional Austrian music. Two representatives of the Friends of Bhutan Association Austria have also been invited to participate in this memorable event.
The venue of the celebrations, the Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH), presents an outstanding example of cooperation between Austria and Bhutan. Construction and refurbishment of the school building as well as the training of the young Bhutanese tourism professionals has been supported by Austria since 2008. Tourism Schools Salzburg have been significantly involved in the curriculum and capacity development of RITH. Diploma programs offered by RITH are also certified by Tourism Schools Salzburg.
During the event, HE Ambassador Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer also handed over the Austria Green Planet Building Award 2019 to the Director General of the Tourism Council of Bhutan on behalf of RITH. The prize has been bestowed upon the affiliated training hotel Zhiwaling Ascent by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism and ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. The award is assigned to outstanding sustainable construction projects characterized by energy efficiency and renewable energy supply.
Diplomatic relations between Bhutan and Austria were officially established on 8 May 1989. Informal relations and personal ties between Austrians and Bhutanese people, however, already date back to the 1960s of the previous century.
At present, the official Austrian Development Cooperation is supporting Bhutan in strengthening the justice sector, good governance and areas of sustainable and renewable energy.