Haa Develops Tourism Action Plan To Promote Its Rich Cultural Heritage And Homestays

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Haa had the 6th highest visitor arrivals among the dzongkhags in the country, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2017.

Haa Summer Festival (Source: Tourism Council of Bhutan)

 

By Phurpa Lhamo | Kuensel

Should the dzongkhag tshogdu endorse the tourism action plan (2018-2023), Haa is likely to be the first dzongkhag to have its own tourism action plan, the dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said. 

“Destination Haa: Tourism Action Plan 2018-2023,” consist of details on the development of destinations, development of markets, challenges, tourism facilities and action plans for its implementation among others. 

Benefits of implementing the tourism action plan (2018-2023)

The dzongdag said that the tourism action plan will give clear directions to the dzongkhag administration in terms of developing tourism at the dzongkhag. It will also help in mobilising required resources and support.

“This is to guarantee a conscientious management of the natural, cultural, and social resources available in the region, ensuring, in the long run, that these resources are used sustainably and that the local community reaps the benefits.”

With over 5,000 visitor arrivals, Haa had the 6th highest visitor arrivals among the dzongkhags in the country, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2017. Paro topped the list with 61,523 visitors.

The dzongdag said that in 2002, the people of Haa valley approached the National Assembly to introduce their community to the world of tourism. 

The main attractions of Haa

He said that the dzongkhag’s rich culture and tradition, natural heritage and its strategic location made Haa a potential tourist destination. In addition to the action plan, Haa has also constructed a tourism information centre. 

 

Caption: Haa Summer Festival 2017

Source: Tarayana Foundation

 

He said that the main objective of the centre was to promote Haa as a tourism destination. Thus, it is committed to provide marketing and support for homestay owners and farm houses, provide employment for local guides and help tourists in getting information.

Pilot project in Haa has the potential to be replicated in other dzongkhags if successful

“This is the first of its kind in the country and is being implemented as a pilot project. If this pilot project becomes successful, this could be replicated in other dzongkhags.” 

The action plan iterates the importance of economic, ecological, cultural and local sustainability of the tourism plans. 

The Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said that the beneficiaries of tourism in Haa should be the community.  “We have put a moratorium for high-end resorts and FDI in the tourism sector in Haa,” he said.

The importance of retaining Haa’s culture and heritage

“This is to ensure that Haa retains its unique, natural and rich cultural heritage. The community should maintain control over tourism development and tourism should provide quality employment to community residents and ensure an equitable distribution of financial benefits.”

To meet this aim, the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has taken the responsibility of developing a community-based sustainable tourism programme in Haa in partnership with the Japan Environmental Education Forum (JEEF) with funding from the Japanese Technical Cooperation.

Promoting Haa as a tourist destination for the domestic market

The dzongkhag today is also exploring ways to promote the dzongkhag for domestic tourism.

“The opening and inauguration of Rangtse Nye last year and developing the area is one such initiative to attract domestic tourists.  The dzongkhag is also organising a summer festival every year for two days,” the dzongdag said.

Showcasing the handcrafts and cuisine of Haa, the festival is also a great opportunity for locals and tourists to mingle at homestays.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.

 

 


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