Homestays Gaining Popularity With Tourists Seeking To Experience Authentic Bhutanese Lifestyle, Food And Culture

Email

Villagers were provided with grants to help them develop homestay facilities such as indoor plumbing.

Traditional Bhutanese houses. (Source: Unusual Traveler)

 

By Chimi Dema | Kuensel

In 1992, the lone homestay service in Gangtey, powered by solar energy, catered to some fifty tourists a year when the endangered black-necked cranes enticed them to visit the Gangtey-Phobji Valley.

A transport and maintenance manager with Yangphel Adventure Travel, Tshering said that there were no hotels or guesthouses in the valley back then.

Fast forward today, there are more than 30 homestays in Gangtey and Phobji gewogs (villages).

 

Black necked cranes seen in Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan.

Photo: Tripadvisor.co.za

 

“Situations have drastically improved in the locality in about three decades’ time,” he added.

Value-added services for tourists at homestays

As a result, competition has brought about value-added services for tourists who can now experience the authentic Bhutanese lifestyle, food and culture with their hosts at homestays.

Alongside came bigger tourist hotels, dotting the gentle slopes which overlook the vast valley. While these can be regarded as competitors to the smaller homestays, the owner of Pemba Farm House in Gangtey, Passang said that business is still lucrative. However, homestays which are located in few far-flung villages have been affected.

“The migration of wintering cranes to the valley and hosting of the festival to celebrate them are major factors contributing to the high turnover rate around this time,” she explained.

Passang is a university graduate who resigned from a private job to help her parents run their homestay, as her parents had problems communicating with the visitors until she took over.

 

Source: Youtube/Mark Wiens

Typically, homestays in Bhutan charge about Nu 700 a night and Nu 300 for a meal but locals can experience their hospitality too at a lower rate.

Homestays as an alternative income for some villagers

Passang earns about Nu 20,000 from a three-bedroom homestay service a night during the peak tourist season.  It has been a little more than a decade since her parents started the business and for farmers in the locality, homestay is the next best source of cash income after the cultivation of potatoes.

Another homestay service provider in Khewang village of Gangtey, Ap Daw said that the business has enhanced the livelihood of the villagers besides immensely changing their outlook on tourists.

“I feel happy when more tourists visit and experience our food and culture,” he quipped.

For Ap Daw, his network among tour guides and operators comes in handy and he is now planning to enhance his homestay facilities.

However, not every villager in the valley is fortunate. Due to their remote location and the presence of large hotels in the valley, homestays in Phobjikha have been affected.

Around 10 households in Phobjikha and 11 in Gangtey have started offering homestays in 2012 as part of the community-based sustainable tourism programme, initiated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature.

 

Experience Bhutanese lifestyle up close in a homestay.

Photo: Druk Asia

 

Villagers were provided with grants to help them develop facilities such as indoor plumbing, and other relevant services for eco-tourists and bird-enthusiasts.

Meanwhile, an evaluation report on eco-tourism by the Gross National Happiness Commission last year recorded that more than 40 percent of the international visitors have availed homestay services, followed by 22 percent of regional tourists (from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives) in Bhutan.

The evaluation report recorded an increasing trend of tourists choosing homestays over hotels in almost all the dzongkhags (districts), with Wangdue Phodrang witnessing a healthy growth of 20 percent.

 

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

 

 



Related Posts

Digital Content Creators and Its Relevance

Everything under the sun, you name it, can be discussed! And therefore, the relevance of BLOGGING in our everyday lives!

Apr 01, 2020 01:22

Gangkhar Puensum – World’s Highest Mountain Forbidden To Climbers

The Bhutanese also believe that the Gangkhar Puensum is home to the mythical Yeti and other legendary creatures.

Mar 23, 2020 23:28

New Species Of Endangered Orchid Found In Trongsa, Bhutan

The species, which is new worldwide, is named as Bulbophyllum Trongsaense.

Mar 19, 2020 00:58

Things to Do during Self-Quarantine- Life during the outbreak of...

Here are a few things to consider. If you’re not in self-quarantine or isolation, you should seriously consider it....

Mar 18, 2020 19:09

Tsirang- The Organic Food Capital of Bhutan

Bhutanese loves chillies, there are dishes where chillies are the main ingredient and these mouth scorching meals may...

Mar 17, 2020 12:14

Can Bhutan’s Concept Of Gross National Happiness Be Applied On...

Should Bhutan's concept of Gross National Happiness be applied to animals and how can it be done?

Mar 12, 2020 00:08

Latest

News

The Test of Loyalty & Commitment Among Bhutanese Employers in Tourism Industry

Amid the crisis we recognized few Bhutanese Tour Operators with generous and compassion souls because COVID-19 will have far-reaching...

Apr 03, 2020 14:33

Daughter Of U.S Covid-19 Patient Thanked Bhutan For Its Great Care And Prayers

The 76 year old American tourist left Bhutan for the US on March 13 for further medical treatment.

Mar 16, 2020 23:28

Features

Digital Content Creators and Its Relevance

Everything under the sun, you name it, can be discussed! And therefore, the relevance of BLOGGING in our everyday lives!

Apr 01, 2020 01:22

Gangkhar Puensum – World’s Highest Mountain Forbidden To Climbers

The Bhutanese also believe that the Gangkhar Puensum is home to the mythical Yeti and other legendary creatures.

Mar 23, 2020 23:28

Sports

Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Business

Celebrating Bhutan’s Entrepreneurs: Namkhar Gyaltshen Of Transcend Artisan

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

Mar 06, 2020 11:48

Centre Of Excellence For Software Engineering Launched By Bhutan’s Thimphu Techpark

The purpose of establishing this centre is to fulfil His Majesty the King’s vision of using technology to solve problems.

Feb 24, 2020 23:58

Travel

Bumthang The Switzerland of Bhutan Beyond Itineraries

Bumthang in Bhutan is the most historic dzongkhag if we consider the number of ancient temples and sacred sites. Being a combination of four...

Mar 28, 2020 11:59

Thimphu Urbanites Hits The Hiking Trail Than Ever Before.

One of the best and easy walk around Thimphu is the three-to four-hours round trip from Dochu La to Lungchuzekha Goemba. It affords...

Mar 26, 2020 11:40

Lifestyle

Food on Wheels- First of its kind in Bhutan

The World's Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains doesn't exist in Bhutan.

Mar 04, 2020 09:39

Amazing Stories from the Eastern Part of Bhutan

You can't say you have visited the eastern part of Bhutan unless you have experienced the following bizarre things.

Mar 02, 2020 19:02

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!