Alumni Spotlight: Passionate social entrepreneur Thinley Choden promotes sustainability in ecotourism

Grounded in the Buddhist value of living in harmony with nature, Bhutanese social entrepreneur Thinley Choden developed a passion for sustainability in ecotourism early on in her life. Today, this passion is reflected in her professional life as a community leader and businesswoman.   

“Growing up in Bhutan, the values of sustainability were part of everyday living even before I could articulate it as such,” she said. 

Thinley, a 2020 VV GROW fellow and the CEO of Bhutan Tours and Travels and the Center for Sustainability Studies Bhutan, takes an entrepreneurial approach to build a more sustainable future.  Through her businesses, Thinley offers consultancy services and skills building in climate solutions and education, knowledge tourism, impact investing and youth empowerment and mentorship.  

As CEO of the Center for Sustainability Studies Bhutan, Thinley consults on issues surrounding food, energy, water, biodiversity, natural resource management, infrastructure, development and governance. The Center is invested in addressing the socio-political, environmental and economic challenges of climate change by conducting independent research on emerging issues in Bhutan and Asia. Their core team and collaborating partners consist of industry experts and thought leaders with experience across government, finance, academia, civil society, grassroots organizations and the private sector. 

Separately, as the CEO of Bhutan Tours and Travels, Thinley designs, markets and conducts impact-driven experiences and journeys to Bhutan around education, wellness, cultural exchange and more. Emphasizing environmentalism is important for Thinley as many major economic sectors in Bhutan — such as agriculture, energy, and tourism — are significantly influenced by climate change. She hopes that travelers see the nature and beauty of her country and develop an understanding of the work that takes place in Bhutan to preserve the environment.  

While people love the nature, culture and beauty of Bhutan and the uniqueness of our tiny Kingdom, I hope people also see and appreciate the work and the choices we have to make every day to preserve, conserve while progressing in a highly globalized and interconnected modernizing world,” she said. 

Though the COVID-19 pandemic halted Bhutan’s tourism industry, Thinley has continued to work toward building her business. Over the last year, she has taken time to reflect upon how her business can become even more involved in ecotourism and stay connected with clients. Her tour company has also been exploring virtual tourism as a future service. 

Thinley’s positive, growth mindset motivates her to take on many responsibilities and stay focused — her driving mission is “doing good and doing the best I can,” she said. In addition to this work, Thinley is the Founding Curator for the Global Shapers Hub in Bhutan, a World Economic Forum initiative that empowers youth to self-organize and contribute to solution building around socio-economic issues. She is also the Bhutan Country Advisor for Give2Asia and is currently working on launching an impact investment fund in Bhutan. 

As a female executive of multiple organizations, Thinley also finds that it’s important for women to collaborate and continue moving forward. “As an entrepreneur, the journey never ends but it is OK to take rest stops but keep moving,” Thinley said. “As a woman entrepreneur, we need to lift each other up in every way possible.” 

Learn more about Thinley’s business at http://www.bhutantoursandtravels.com/ 

and connect with Thinley on Social Media: 

Facebook Page (business): https://www.facebook.com/bhutantt/ 

Facebook Page (personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502851188 

Instagram (business): @bhutantoursandtravels 

Instagram (personal): @thinleyc 

LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/thinley-choden/ 

Twitter (personal): @manoazam