Chimi Dema | Tsirang  

Dagana dzongkhag was about to begin developing a trekking route to begin its much-awaited tourism programme, but the nationwide lockdown ground all activities to a halt.

The south programme coordinator with Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Sonam

Tobgay said that the activity plan for the development of 56-km Dagala trek route from Genekha, Thimphu to Dagana is ready.

“However, work couldn’t begin due to the nationwide lockdown,” he said. “The first phase of work which is to clear bushes along the route was supposed to begin in December, last year.”

  Homestays received support with basic amenities

Homestays received support with basic amenities

While the survey of the entire route was conducted last October, another survey to study feasibility of an alternative route from Dompa towards Tseza gewog is yet to begin. The alternative route is expected to reduce travel time by at least two hours.

Sonam Tobgay said that the development would focus mainly on the tradition route under Dagana. After the advent of modern roads, commuters abandoned the route.

The programme worth Nu 5million includes developing campsites and building short bridges and signage boards.

Dagana economic development officer Tshering Ngedup said that should the situation improve, the work for the development of route is expected to begin next month.

“Improving Dagala trek is one of the dzongkhag’s major activities for this fiscal year,” Tshering Ngedup said.

Another aspect of tourism promotion in the dzongkhag is developing homestays in villages. Dagana has 21 identified homestays currently. TCB supported a Nu 2M project providing basic amenities to develop homestays. About eighty percent of the work is completed, according to officials.

Officials said that supporting homestays was to provide accommodation services to visitors mainly in rural areas. “It is an opportunity for visitors to stay with a host family and get a genuine and firsthand experience of a rural lifestyle.”

Tseza gewog has the highest, eight, identified homestays. Tseza Gup Phurba said that the homestays would provide an opportunity for the rural residents to earn additional income.

TCB’s Director General Dorji Dhradhul said that sites were also identified in the dzongkhag to build quality roadside amenities.

In order to promote balanced tourism in the country, he said that the council has been focusing more on dzongkhags where tourist arrival in the past was minimal.

“Dagana is one of them,” he said. “We have been working on planned activities despite the pandemic.”