The Final Match: Bhutan vs. The Faroe Islands

This is Travel Match #111.

Dating back to 2010, countries and world destinations have been battling it out on Twitter and January 31, 2013 will be the day that the final #TravelMatch vote is cast.

If you haven’t cast your vote yet, simply head over to Twitter and follow the #TravelMatch hashtag. Send a tweet to @redhunttravel voting for either the Faroe Islands or Bhutan to win! Votes must be received before February 1, 2013.

Not sure who to vote for? Here is a little recap of information from these two finalists who each won more matches than 240 other countries and destinations that participated in Travel Match.

Monks

Monks are a common sight in Bhutan…I haven’t been so these monks are from Sri Lanka!

 

About Bhutan and the Faroe Islands

Two very different countries have found themselves victors of four past matches to make it here. One country is landlocked, the other is surrounded by sea. One has a strong Buddhist culture, one is rooted in Nordic culture. Bhutan is in the heart of Asia, the Faroes are in the remote North Atlantic Ocean. Together, these two countries have a population of fewer than 800,000 people.

They’re both relatively off-the-beaten path as you might say. It wasn’t until 1992 that alcohol was legal in the Faroes, and even now anything stronger than 2.8% alcohol has controlled distribution. Hard liquor isn’t allowed to be produced in the country either. On the other hand, consumption of strong alcohol is common in Bhutan, and much cheaper too! On the fast-food front they’re both holdouts, with the Faroes only recently having a Burger King arrive, while Bhutan hasn’t caved to international fast food chains yet.

If you like nature and wildlife, they both have a lot to offer, with sea birds and sheep dominating the Faroes and more diverse, albeit elusive wildlife in Bhutan. They’re both countries that remain unique in the world, with their own set of traditions and cultural heritage.

Puffin

Atlantic Puffins are commonly seen in the Faroe Islands…although this is a Tufted Puffin from Russia as I haven’t been to the Faroes.

 

Yet, both countries aren’t without their fair share of controversy either. Bhutan kicked out roughly 20% of their population – 100,000 people – in the 1990s, purely to preserve their cultural heritage. Their current conservation efforts are often questioned as they pit cultural conservation against natural conservation, resulting in frequent conflicts between wildlife and farmers.

Over in the Faroes, a tradition of hunting whales for their meat has been met with increasing scrutiny in recent years by people who claim it is neither necessary nor humane. Yet, the culture of the Faroe Islands is dependent on fishing and the sea. Their hunts are only done for personal consumption without any commercial involvement, making the annual whale hunt a key part of their food supply.

On the brighter side, the Faroes are frequently said to be among the most beautiful islands on earth, with their soaring sea cliffs and lush green hills. Hiking and outdoor adventures are plentiful in the Faroes. Bhutan may have kicked out a lot of people, but they are now bringing in a lot of tourists by claiming to be the Happiest Nation on Earth – well at least the only one that officially measures Gross National Happiness!

It’s an interesting battle to finish the Travel Match series. One thing that became evident over the course of the 111 matches was that few ‘popular’ destinations lasted long into the series. The travel voters on Twitter have had a soft spot for more obscure, remote and less-visited destinations.

We shall wait to find out later this week who will be crowned the Travel Match champions. Bhutan or the Faroe Islands?

About Red Hunt

A former journalist and business analyst that now works in the world of travel marketing. Based in Toronto, Red Hunt has travelled to more than 40 countries over the past 10 years. You can follow Red on Twitter @redhunttravel.