Nine tour operators signed an agreement with Dagana dzongkhag on May 19 to bring tourists to the dzongkhag by June next year and international tourists when the sector reopens.

Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), in collaboration with the dzongkhag, organised a familiarization tour for the tour operators from May 19 to 24.

Bhutan Tourism Monitor’s annual report showed Dagana received only 97 tourists between 2014 and 2019. No tourist visited the dzongkhag in 2017.

TCB’s officials said that Dagana has the highest poverty rate according to the 2017 Population and Housing Census of Bhutan. “Promoting tourism in the dzongkhag would help create economic and employment opportunities for the rural communities,” an official said.

Besides exploring tourism attraction spots, the operators are also allowing owners of village homestays to get hands-on experiences to provide accommodation services to visitors in the future.

Dagana has 21 identified homestays currently. TCB supported Nu 2M project in the dzongkhag to provide basic amenities to develop homestays.

With eight homestays, Tseza gewog has the highest number of homestays.

Dagana Dzongdag, Duba, said that although the dzongkhag has more than 20 sacred sites, tourist arrival in the past had been minimal. “There is also potential to develop agri-tourism as Dagana stresses on major production of organic vegetables and crops.”

He also said that the arrival of tourists is expected to increase once the Dagana-Wangdue bypass is through which would reduce travel distance by 80 kilometres.

Meanwhile, TCB has also planned similar activities to promote domestic tourism in absence of international tourists in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Chimi Dema | Tsirang