Should the dzongkhag tshogdu endorse the tourism action plan (2018-2023), Haa is likely to be the first dzongkhag to have its own tourism action plan dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said.
“Destination Haa: Tourism Action Plan 2018-2023,” consist of details on development of destinations, development of markets, challenges, tourism facilities, and action plans for implementation among others.
The dzongdag said the tourism action plan will give clear direction to the dzongkhag administration in terms of developing tourism at the dzongkhag, and help in mobilising required resources and support.
“This is to guarantee a conscientious management of the natural, cultural, and social resources available in the region, ensuring, in the long run, that these resources are used sustainably and that the local community reaps the benefits.”
With over 5,000 visitor arrivals, Haa had the 6th highest visitor arrivals among the dzongkhags in the country, according to Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2017. Paro had the maximum visitors with 61,523 visitors.
The dzongdag said that in 2002, people of Haa valley approached the National Assembly to introduce their community to the world of tourism.
He said that the dzongkhag’s rich culture and tradition, natural heritage, and its strategic location made Haa a potential tourist destination. In addition to the action plan, Haa has also constructed a tourism information centre.
He said that the main objective of the centre was to promote Haa as a tourism destination, provide marketing and support for home stay owner and farm houses, provide employment for local guides and help tourist in getting information among others. “This is the first of its kind in the country and is being implemented as a pilot project. If this pilot project becomes successful, this could be replicated in other dzongkhags.”
The action plan iterates the importance of economic, ecological, cultural and local sustainability of the tourism plans.
Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said that the beneficiaries of tourism in Haa should be the community. “We have put a moratorium for high-end resorts and FDI in tourism sector in Haa,” he said. “This is to ensure Haa remains unique, natural and a rich cultural heritage. The community should maintain control over tourism development and tourism should provide quality employment to community residents and ensure an equitable distribution of financial benefits.”
The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) has taken the responsibility of developing a community-based sustainable tourism programme in Haa in partnership with the Japan Environmental Education Forum (JEEF) with funding from the Japanese Technical Cooperation.
The dzongkhag today is also exploring ways to promote the dzongkhag for domestic tourism. “The opening and inauguration of Rangtse Nye last year and developing the area is one such initiative to attract domestic tourists. The dzongkhag is also organising summer f estival every year for two days,” the dzongdag said.