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Promoting white water sports: Canoeing, rafting and kayaking
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Promoting white water sports: Canoeing, rafting and kayaking

Of the hundreds of tourists that visit Bhutan every year a handful come to kayak and raft in the Bhutanese rivers. Unofficial records indicate that between 20-50 tourists come for the river adventure which is packaged together with trekking and sight seeing in spring and in autumn seasons when the rivers are stable. A relatively new adventure sport in Bhutan which the department of tourism has been promoting and exploring since 1997, Bhutanese river systems provide a huge potential for canoeing, rafting and kayaking according to tourism officials.

A survey of Bhutanese rivers done with the help of professionals from other countries found that each valley has a river and some sections are ratable and most can be kayaked.

Mochhu near Punakha
Sections of the Pochu and Mochu rivers in Punakha, the Dangchu in Wangdue the Mangdechu in Trongsa the Chamkarchu, Durchu and the Tangchu in Bumthang and Tangmachu in Lhuentse can be rafted and kayaked.
One private tour company, Lotus Adventure run by Sonam Tobgay has been instrumental in promoting and pioneering white water sport in Bhutan.

But numbers have remained small from the lack of advertising funds and the highly specialised nature of the sport according to Sonam Tobgay. "World class equipment is expensive and the safety is paramount."

The sport might soon receive a boost through the Bhutan Canoe Federation which was launched last month in Thimphu with the approval from the Bhutan Olympic Committee.

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Assembly bans sale of tobacco in Bhutan
Sale of tobacco is now officially banned throughout Bhutan according to a decision taken by the 82nd session of the National Assembly on August 12, 2004 The Assembly also resolved on levying a 100 percent duty on tobacco brought into the country for personal consumption. The decision to ban tobacco sales was taken during the ratification of the WHO convention on the Tobacco control by the National Assembly. Officially, sale of tobacco is already banned in 18 of the country's 20 dzongkhags although it is still available in the black-market at much higher prices. The government had also increased taxes on tobacco products from 10 to 50 percent to control tobacco us. The sale of imported cigarettes from duty free shops was banned earlier this year.
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