Phuentsholing’s hotels thrive on conferences and workshops in winter

Hotels: It is spring and Phuentsholing is getting hotter. Very soon, the business hub of the country will not be as busy as it was for the past many weeks.

Students and teachers have returned to schools, pilgrims have gone and come and the citrus mandarin export season is over. But the birder town has already made its share.

The warm weather, closeness to Jaigaon and the ample facility brought thousands of people to the town for various reasons. One trend that is increasing every year is the conferences, meetings, seminars or workshops that are taken to the warmer places in winter.

This is good for the local economy.

Hotels and even schools in the town did a brisk business hiring their conference halls between November 2015 and February this year. Seven hotels with conference halls and four education institutions received about 70 bookings.

It is the warmer winter that the government agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations including some international organizations have identified this border town right to conduct workshops, meetings, and trainings.

The town’s famous Druk Hotel recorded 17 reservations from private, government, and international organizations. Between November 2015 and February 26, Druk Hotel’s conference halls were booked for more than a month’s time.

Its deputy general manager Thukten D Lhuendup said their conference hall was engaged “more this winter.” “Phuentsholing is a happening town during winter,” he said, adding that agencies choose the town for multiple reasons and not just for weather.

He said government officials also repair vehicles, take short excursions to Silliguri, India, and shop in Jaigaon after attending the official works.

Druk Hotel can accommodate 65 people in its conference hall. It charges about Nu 8,000 a day and discounts 20-30 percent depending on the clients’ needs and requirements. A conference was ongoing yesterday at the hotel.

With a capacity to accommodate about 50 people in its conference hall, three-star rated Orchid Hotel hosted six government workshops and seminars between December last year and February. Government agencies had booked the hall and occupied the hotel.

Orchid’s general manager Sonam Penjor also attributed the warm winter for being able to do a good business. “Since the town is a commercial hub, people must have chosen it for shopping and leisure for a change,” the general manager said.

Sonam Penjor added that winter in particular was the peak season for small hotels and that conference hall business was the main business for many star rated hotels in Phuentsholing.

Orchid Hotel charges range from Nu 2,500 to Nu 10,000 per day depending on the clients’ requirement.

Other entities in the conference hall business such as Centennial Hotel, Lhaki Hotel, Namgay Hotel, and Hotel Pelri in the town hosted about 20 businesses between November 2015 and February this year.

Lhakhi Hotel’s manager Namgay Wangchuk, meanwhile, said conference halls with most of the hotels in the town remained unused most of the time. Some government agencies with conference facilities are allowing other government agencies to use them for free, he added.

“We had a big conference hall before,” the manager said, explaining the hotel had to convert most of its portion for official use after business dried up.

Another manager with one of the hotels also said that business dried up with government agencies’ halls being available for free. Although competition among the hotels is acceptable, government halls used without having to pay is a bad idea both for the private people and the government offices, he added.

Among the four educational institutions in Phuentsholing, College of Science and Technology (CST) did more business with their conference hall. The college’s hall was in use for about 15 times. Ministry of Works and Human Settlement hires the CST conference halls as the two parties have also signed a an understanding, a college official said.

Phuentsholing Higher Secondary School (PHSS), Phuentsholing Middle Secondary School (MSS), and Sonamgang MSS have also engaged their auditorium halls this winter.

PHSS principal Yangki Dem said their halls are hired for conference purposes once in a while. The school entertains only those conferences related with the education ministry.

About seven workshops and trainings were conducted at Sonamgang MSS. The school is also identified as a teacher resource centre.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing