Spanning over 1,437.8, Trashiyangtse grew out of Trashigang in 1992. The dzongkhag has developed into a spacious valley along the Kholongchu around Choeten Kora, the giant Boudhanath-style choeten.

Trashiyangtse, which means the ‘Fortress of Auspicious Fortune’ is known for the many sacred pilgrim sites (nye) scattered across the dzongkhag. It is also home to several natural reserves including the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) where the endangered Black-necked cranes roost during winter.

However, despite potential tourist attractions, the dzongkhag recorded less than 1,000 tourist arrivals by bed nights in 2016. Trashigang in the same year recorded over 4,300 visitors according to the Tourism Monitor Report 2016.

Tourism development remains one of the priorities for the dzongkhag in the 12th Plan. Dzongkhag planning officer, Sonam Thinley, said that poor accommodation facilities, difficult road conditions and limited air transport are some of the reasons for low tourist arrivals in the dzongkhag.

Sonam Thinley said that to address lodging issue, the dzongkhag administration would provide trainings on housekeeping and food and beverages to home-stay owners and hoteliers. “There are not many standard hotels for tourists, which is why there are less visitors,” he said adding that works to build a three-star hotel has begun opposite the Bayling Central School.

Officials said that in collaboration with Department of Park Services, BWS would be promoted as a biodiversity hotspot and encourage local community to develop eco-lodge and home-stays. Today, there are two home-stays in Bumdeling gewog.

The dzongkhag administration would support activities through leasing of state land and providing access to finance. Avenues to explore development of adventure sports such as rafting and kayaking would also be looked into.

Development and promotion of treks to various goenpas and nyes in consultation with the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) would also be explored.

Given the location of Omba nye and lhakhang, officials said that the site would be promoted as the Taktshang of east with a three-day-and-two-night trek to Omba village and Duksum. Improvement of the existing trails and construction of toilets and canopies would also come about.

By the end of the 12th Plan, the target is to increase tourist arrival by bed night to 4,100 in the dzongkhag.

Meanwhile, the dzongkhag is also focusing on developing its local economy through expansion of small, cottage and medium industries in the new Plan.

With one of the highest (740) gungtongs (empty households) recorded in the dzongkhag, officials said that addressing the issue would help achieve the 12th Plan’s objective of ‘Just, Harmonious and Sustainable Society through Enhanced Decentralisation.’

Officials said that migration is one of the main reasons for increasing number of gungtong. As per the Labour Force Survey 2015, migration is mainly caused by family move (37.4 percent) followed by education (19.1 percent), to start a new job (9.3 percent) and search of work (8.7 percent).

Initiatives such as economic development policy, fiscal incentives 2017, and Priority Sector Lending guideline for CSMI/CSI development would be explored to facilitate access to commercial finance to the farmers.

To encourage farmers to take up commercial farming, new irrigation channels would be constructed along with land reclamation programmes on fallow lands and supply of electric fencing would also be looked into.

Another major area would be to promote local products through the ‘Brand Bhutan’ initiative and value addition to existing products.

The total budget outlay for the dzongkhag in the12th Plan is about Nu 1,198.52 million (M) compared to Nu 563.831M in the 11th Plan.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashiyangtse