Neten Dorji | Trashigang

After more than two years, homestays in Merak and Sakteng in Trashigang are now beginning to get visitors and guests.

Both local and international guests visit Sakteng and Merak to experience nature and the unique nomadic lifestyles.

Leki Zangmo, who owns a homestay in Sakteng, received two groups of international guests.

“As international borders are opened, we expect more visitors to come,” said Leki Zangmo.“Business was challenged during the pandemic.”

The owner of Red Panda in Merak, Dawa, said that eco-tourism had benefits villagers immensely. “We hope 2023 will be a better year for us.”

Dawa said that before the pandemic he used to host more than 50 local and international tourists in a year.

Ngadhen, a homestay owner in Merak, said that after the pandemic, the number of visitors decreased significantly. “So far, we could host only 13 international visitors.”

Villagers say that homestays are a good source income.

However, some homestay owners are worried that the new Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) might discourage tourists from visiting the highlands.

Lobzang Tashi, hasn’t got any guest since homestay since the international border opened. “It is a tshechu season and even Trashigang town doesn’t have many visitors.”

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary(SWS) supported people of Merak and Sakteng to build standard toilets and opened the homestays.