Tourism: The business community of Panbag dungkhag says that it would benefit them if Indian tourists could hold for a night in Panbang.

However, Indian tourists coming to Panbang through the Panbang border route must leave the same evening, currently. This is because there is no immigration check post at the border. Panbang is some 13km from the border.

The Royal Manas National Park collects some fees from the visitors and the Royal Bhutan Police keep a tab on how many people cross the border. Immigration officials check only when the tourists reach Panbang town.

Ugyen Tshering, who runs a shop at Panbang town, said Indian visitors frequently ask them about when they would be allowed to stay overnight in Panbang. “This will also benefit the people here.”

Ugyen Tshering said that hotels and eco-lodges remain vacant throughout the year. People could also gradually start home-stays in the nearby villages, he added. But for this to happen, there should be an immigration checkpost at the border.

Another businessmen said that they could pick up tourists from the border in Bhutanese vehicles if there is an immigration checkpost at the border. “That will also help filter quality tourists coming to the country.”

Ugyen said Panbang is too far for the dollar paying tourists. Promoting Indian tourists is, he added, the best option for the economic growth of the dungkhag.

A member of River Guides of Panbang said they could sell rafting services to the tourists if they are allowed to stay overnight in Panbang. “We are already doing rafting promotion with our counterparts in nearby Indian towns.”

Rayrup Brahma from West Bengal, who visited Panbang recently, said he would come to Panbang along with his friends and family if they are allowed to hold for the night there.

Nima Wangdi | Panbang