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No guests in Tang’s farmhouses

Poor advocacy and lack of cooperation from tour operators and guides are attributed for the no-show

Tourism: None of the 15 households in Tang, Bumthang, which opened farm house/home-stay since 2011 has seen a single tourist despite over 60,080 tourist arrivals until 2013 in the dzongkhag.

According to the chairman of Tang farm house group from Phomrong, Chencho Dorji, none of the houses running a home-stay has provided home stay service to a tourist despite Bumthang being a place flooded with tourists.

He said the only farmhouse that saw a tourist was a heritage house in Bebzur that too when the guest stopped for lunch. “Let alone tourists, the farmhouses have not even host locals,” Chencho Dorji said.

Wangchuk centennial national park initiated the farmhouses in Tang with funding from WWF in 2011. The 15 households in Phomrong, Bebzur, Kunzang Drak, Kizom, Tandingang and Gamling were given construction materials to spruce up the traditional homes to suit the needs of their future guests.

“The village homes were equipped with attached toilets and furnished rooms to accommodate the guests comfortably,” Tang Gyedrung, Ugyen Lhendup said.

Villagers were also trained in housekeeping and cooking to meet the minimum standard of hospitality.

“The farmhouse were to serve the guests with traditional cuisine, accommodation and traditional hot stone bath,” Chencho Dorji, said.

The rates were also fixed at Nu 600 a night a guest.  The number of guests a farmhouse can accommodate is limited to six guests a night.

“Besides its business, the farmhouse group also plans to promote traditional values like handloom, folklore dances and mask dances,” the chairman said.

But even after four years of opening the farmhouse group’s saving account with the bank of Bhutan, the group is yet to see its first deposit. Ten percent or more will be collected as fees from its members to be saved in the group’s account.

The money from saving will go in training the members in hospitality and management. The saving was also targeted for other purposes. For instance if Mebartsho gets clogged, the saving could be used to clear such blockades either by hiring labourers or providing meals to the labourers.

According to the farmhouse group, the gewog, dzongkhag and tourism sector must facilitate home-stay promotion.

“It is only the gewog who can help us attract guests because hoteliers will never share their guests with us since it will affect their business adversely,” a home-stay owner from Bebzur, Dechen Zangmo said.

Chencho Dorji said that the gewog’s inability to advocate the existence of farmhouse has been one reason why it isn’t seeing any guests.

Although the gewog acknowledged the farmhouse of suffering from poor advocacy, it also attributed the home-stay’s inability to attract guests to lack of cooperation from tour operators and guides.

For instance, the tour guides make the tourists spend nights by camping outside while in Tang instead of housing them in the farmhouses.

“They even refuse to use the Kizom campground by camping in other places despite gewog barring such practices,” Ugyen Lhendup said.

Meanwhile, the farmhouse group felt that other gewogs must come together to facilitate home-stay business.

Tempa Wangdi, Tang

 

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