ABTO and TCB asked to come up with alternatives to solve crowd and garbage issues

Tourism: The decision to close Taktshang monastery in Paro for visitors on Tuesdays except on auspicious days from January 1, 2016 will not be implemented.

This was decided during a meeting between Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO), Paro dzongkhag, and Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) on December 23.

A letter from ABTO to the tour operators states, “during the meeting it was agreed that the closure of Taktshang on Tuesdays, which was initially scheduled since January 1, 2016 would not be implemented.”

In the meantime, ABTO and TCB were requested to come up with an alternative measure in the next three months to address the issue of cleaning and crowd management raised by the local government.

“Paro dzongkhag has also requested all tour operators to kindly use the services of Taktshang Zhenta Tshogpa and not from elsewhere,” the letter states.

Tourism stakeholders that opposed the decision earlier welcomed the announcement. If implemented, they said it would lead to issues.

Tour operators in September expressed concerns over the ad hoc change in timing even as the dzongkhag administration’s proposal and the DT’s decision were in response to address the aggravating garbage issue.

The dzongkhag tshogdu in September decided to close Taktshang monastery for visitors on Tuesdays except on auspicious days.

The dzongkhag administration submitted the proposal stating that cleaning and repair or renovation works would be done on Tuesdays. The decision was to be implemented after informing TCB and relevant stakeholders.

As the main attraction to draw tourists to Bhutan that is featured in every promotional material, tour operators earlier said that the monastery should remain open on all days, as it would have a huge impact on the whole industry.

As a tourist hotspot, Taktshang gets more than 1,000 pilgrims a day including tourists. With the number of visitors increasing, keeping the trail clean has become an issue.

While some tour operators, guides, hotel staff, and volunteers conduct ad hoc cleaning campaigns, tourism stakeholders keep emphasizing on the need for cleanliness in and around the monastery.

Kinga Dema