With the relaxation of covid restrictions and the reopening of tourism in the country, the farmhouses in Merak Gewog of Trashigang have been receiving domestic and international visitors. According to the records with the Department of Forests and Park Services office in Merak, about 130 guests visited the farmhouses so far.
Distinct culture, pristine environment and snow-clad mountains are the Unique Selling Point or USP of Merak Gewog, making it a preferred tourist destination. Furthermore, its landscape is like that of Switzerland in Europe, which attracted a good number of tourists before the pandemic.
This has led to Merakpas opening a farmhouse to generate income. After a hiatus of almost three years, the farmhouse business is gaining pace.
Since the reopening of tourism in September this year about 30 international tourists visited the farmhouses there. They received about 100 domestic tourists since the relaxation in April this year.
“Merak Gewog is a remote place and has a unique culture which attracts tourists. So we thought to reopen our farm business and earn a good income,” said one of the farmhouse operators, Pema Wangmo.
“I have been operating a farmhouse for about seven to eight years. Before COVID, I received many local visitors. But during the pandemic, I received no guests at all. Now I am hoping to revive my business,” added another farmhouse operator, Sangay Dema.
According to them, they charge Nu 1,000 per night for domestic visitors. This covers three meals.
For international guests, they charge Nu 2,000 per night, covering three meals.
However, they say a committee needs to be constituted to provide better services and ensure equal allocation of guests and uniform rates.
“I didn’t get a single guest though many guests visited our place. This is because some others have invited the guests through their personal connection,” added Sangay Dema.
Some other farmhouse operators like Pema Wangmo shared a similar viewpoint.
“I think we need a farmhouse committee here as the rate of the farmhouses fluctuates. I don’t think we can improve our services by simply increasing the rate.”
On this, the gewog said they are ready to help them form a committee. Before the pandemic, each farmhouse operator there earned an income between Nu 30,000 to 100,000.
With some more people keen to open farmhouses and visitors poised to increase in the coming years, it is likely that the farmhouse business will have a large hand in promoting community-based tourism in Merak.
Sonam Darjay, Trashigang
Edited by Pema Lhaden