With no hotels and visitors facing lodging problems, farmers have started hosting guests in their homes

Service: Visitors to Gasa dzongkhag would no longer have to worry about finding a place to stay, as villagers of Bemi village would host local visitors at their homes and provide basic lodging facilities.

Aum Kinga and Tashi were the first two villagers to receive their first guests on August 17 evening. The two were among the 11 houses that Gasa dzongkhag administration has identified as farm stay or home-stay to host guests.

Gasa dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said the idea is to help provide food and lodge facilities to visitors in the dzongkhag. “Gasa does not have a single hotel or a lodge, and many a time even those coming for official works faced problems in finding a roof,” Dorji Dhradhul said.

“We can’t even adjust guest at an official’s home, as most dzongkhag officials are cramped in smaller houses,” he said.

The dzongdag said that there is only a small district guesthouse, which is also under renovation. “To help avoid facing lodging problems for visitors, we had to come up with this alternative,” he said. “We don’t want our visitors to be roofless in the district that is regarded as a roof of the country.”

The aim is to start with local visitors (Bhutanese), and cater to tourists in future with improvement of the farmhouse and services, he said. In the long run this initiative is expected to evolve into a sustainable farm-lodge facility in Gasa.

The dzongkhag’s objective is also to recommend people visiting Gasa, either for official work or leisure to use the farmhouses, where they would be provided with simple facilities on minimal charges, but with cleanliness.

Dorji Dhradhul said it would also be an opportunity for villagers as an additional income source, and also help farmers maintain and adapt to a clean home and surrounding.

Kinga, a mother of two is happy with the initiative. “I hardly go out of village, and stay alone as my children are studying in boarding schools,” she said. “I don’t have a proper source of income other than gardening.”

She said she has set up two rooms for guests. Phuntsho Choden of Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) and group, who are in Gasa to train on women empowerment, launched the farm stay-houses, where the group is staying.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue