English | Dzongkha Sunday, January 19, 2020

Haa DT proposes removal of the special route permit for tourists to visit the Dzongkhag


Dec 10, 2019

Haa dzongkhag is exploring ways to promote tourism and making Haa a sustainable model tourism destination in the country. However, the tourism developmental plans and existing services are often hindered by the special route permit required for regional tourists to visit Haa.

The regional tourists visiting Haa needs to get a route permit from the Department of Immigration. This according to the people is hampering tourism businesses and discouraging them from operating homestays and implementing tourism activities.

As per Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2018, more than 200,000 regional tourists visited Bhutan of which only about 3% visited Haa. However, people believe the number is much lower than Haa’s capacity to absorb tourists.

In a recent Haa Dzongkhag Tshogdu, the local leaders decided to write to the Parliament to do away with the route permit.

“In one hand Dzongkhag is promoting tourism and on the other hand, the government is still keeping that special permit system in place. So the Dzongkhag Tshogdu has passed a resolution to make an appeal to the government to lift this restriction,” said Kinzang Dorji, the Haa Dzongda.

Talking to some of the tour operators, they say most of the tourists choose to visit only up to Chelela pass even with the route permit to visit Haa.

Dzongkhag Tshogdu in the past put a moratorium on high-end hotels and handicrafts to provide real essence of Bhutanese culture and traditions for the tourists.

“Tourists can avail all the high-end services in other Dzongkhag. They can stay in Taj, Zhiwaling, Uma, Aman resorts. So if Haa is also going to do the same thing, then there is no reason why people should come all the way to Haa just to experience the same which they can experience in Paro and Thimphu.  Then we identified homestay as the unique one. We don’t want big FDIs; we don’t want to have concrete jungles to come up in Haa. So to promote homestay, we decided to put a moratorium on high-end resorts,” the Dzongda added.

There are around twenty-four homestays and three 3 star hotels in Haa.

It was only in 2002 that the Royal Government of Bhutan opened Haa to tourists. With its late entry into the tourism sector, the district focuses on community based sustainable tourism development.

Sangay Chezom

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