Tourism: There are some positive developments in promoting balanced regional development in the tourism sector, the country’s second largest industry.

The government has allocated Nu 500,000 to facilitate development and promotion of tourism in Dagana and Tsirang dzongkhags. This is the only dzongkhag specific allocation of tourism budget for the current fiscal year.

Although the amount is too small, officials said the allocation of the budget shows the government’s commitment to promote balanced regional development in tourism. The money will be used for research among other purposes.

Development of tourism in the two dzongkhags is expected to bridge the regional development gaps in the tourism sector.

Drujegang-Tseza MP from Dagana, Karma Dorji, said trekking routes in the dzongkhags will be revived. Tracking routes, according to him, include those used in the past for travelling.

He said Dagana is rich in cultural heritage and offers enough sights for tourists. “There are a number of religious sites for tourists and other visitors,” he said.

However, Karma Dorji said infrastructures such as accommodation need to be developed. He said the allocation of budget is a sign of the government’s commitment to promote balanced regional tourism in the country.

The spatial distribution of the tourism industry in the country is attributed to lack of infrastructure among other factors. He said so far, there are no tourist arrivals in Dagana.

Sergithang-Tsirangtoe MP from Tsirang, Novin Darlami, said the two dzongkhags are already open for tourism and that a few tourists have already arrived in his dzongkhag.

Nation Council member from Tsirang, Kamal Bahadur Gurung, said with the government placing priorities for tourism development in the dzongkhags, he said interested investors should come up with proposals.

Tsirang also has plans to restore old trekking routes, develop bird watching sites and butterfly sites.

According to officials, the dzongkhags in collaboration with the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) will explore possibilities of developing new tourism development products such as bicycle and trekking routes, river rafting, nature tours, and community based tourism, among other areas to attract tourists to the dzongkhag.

The government has identified tourism as one of the important sectors, which generates revenue, employment and earns convertible currency.

Overall, the government has allocated Nu 113.39M for development of tourism infrastructures and public service delivery to promote Bhutan as an exclusive and year-round tourist destination for the current fiscal year. The money is also for addressing the tourism related impacts.

One of the challenges facing the industry is to have standards put in place to ensure sustainability of the industry. Therefore, Nu 1.95M is allocated for development of the “Bhutan Tourism Monitor” and Nu 855,000 for carrying out tourism related research.

Another Nu 10M is allocated for construction of roadside amenities, development and maintenance of trekking routes, campsites and trail bridges.

In order to promote Bhutan as an exclusive travel destination in international markets, Nu 25.5M has allocated for organising road shows, participation in travel fairs and development of online promotional programmes.

MB Subba