English | Dzongkha Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Ecotourism- mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into tourism


Aug 24, 2021

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) will soon be piloting an ecotourism project in some parts of the eastern and central regions. In what is a win-win proposition, the communities will ensure the conservation of the rich biodiversity and reap its benefit through tourism.

Eco lodges like the kind at Panbang and Pantang in Zhemgang is one aspect of ecotourism. These eco lodges are run by communities. The community takes a major chunk of the revenue when tourists visit the community during peak tourist season. No harm to the environment is ensured while conducting tourism activity. Experts define such form of tourism product as community-based tourism.

And this is exactly what the TCB intends to develop in some of the eastern and central districts including Lhuentse, Monggar, Trashigang, Trashi Yangtse and Zhemgang and two protected areas of Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary and Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Director-General of the TCB, Dorji Dhardhul, said it will be the country’s first formal ecotourism project:

“When we talk about community-based tourism, the community of a particular locality will be involved fully and they will be developing certain tourism products on ecotourism. And any revenue that is generated will benefit the whole community”.

Global Environment Facility (GEF) is funding the project worth about five million US dollars. GEF is the largest multilateral trust fund focused on enabling developing countries like Bhutan to invest in nature and supports the implementation of major international environmental conventions including on biodiversity and climate change.

The project will also address human-wildlife conflicts in the five districts and the two protected areas which are believed to be rich in biodiversity with a high prevalence of human-wildlife conflict.

“There can be a continuous conflict between humans and wildlife. Let’s say one particular community has tigers or maybe some other endangered species or maybe some unique animals. That will be promoted as a destination overseas and then when tourists visit these locations revenue will be generated. So, that is how our local community is going to stay interested and continue with this and that is how conservation will take place,” he added.

The TCB will be implementing the project as part of the Tourism Flagship Programme in the 12th Five Year Plan. The project intends to establish Bhutan as a destination for ecotourism.

 Phub Gyem

Edited by Sonam

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