One of the nine hot spring ponds is a pay and use facility
Known for its healing powers, Gasa tshachu (hotspring) attracts about 3,000 visitors every year, making it the most visited places of the country’s largest and least populated district.
Located about an hour drive from the dzong, beside the Mo chhu, is the cluster of nine roofed hot spring ponds. One of them is a pay and use pond.
Started as one of the Good to Great Gasa initiatives in early 2017, the dzongkhag administration charges Nu 500 a person for two hours of use. The pay and use pond, which can accommodate 10 people has indoor washroom and resting facilities.
Gasa dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said the pay and use pond was started to look into income generation opportunities while the dzongkhag worked toward becoming self-reliant. “The commercialisation does not mean that everyone coming to Gasa tshachu will have to pay and use. Even if we opt for this development, there will always be a section where the public can avail the hot spring for free,” he said.
He added that the dzongkhag administration is aware of the profile of hot spring users.
“Our long-term aim is to cater the services to tourists, senior officials and those preferring privacy.”
In 2017, of the total 3,224 visitors that availed the hot spring services, 93 were tourists, the highest Gasa tshachu saw in the last five years.
The pay and use pond has to date collected about Nu 50,000. The pond according to the hot spring committee was mostly availed by tourists and senior officials.
“The resource has huge potential to be a source of income for the dzongkhag. We want to build better facilities, enhance and develop ponds of international standards and convert it into a spot where people can come for a vacation,” Dorji Dhradhul said. “That’s our long-term aim.”
The pay and use pond used to be a changing room for the public. It was converted into a pond after the hot spring committee could not manage and monitor the misuse of the changing room facilities. The tshachu previously had seven ponds, a VIP pond, and a changing room. An open-air concrete wall located close to the ponds serves as the changing room today.
The hot spring’s manager, Tandin Dorji said the dzongkhag administration is working on making the resource accessible and convenient to the public while also looking into its sustainability. “We have space but the concern is sustainability and the number of ponds we can add.”
With connectivity to the dzongkhag improving, Gasa tshachu is seeing an increasing number of visitors annually.
From 1,387 in 2014, the number increased to 2,374 in 2015; 2,560 in 2016; 3,224 in 2017 and 3,029 so far this year.
Nima | Gasa