In the patter of the monsoon rains, Bhutanese young and old alike enjoys the sour, salty and spicy Thai cuisine with the blend of live music playing to celebrate the “Thai Food Festival” at the clock tower square, Thimphu yesterday.
The festival is being held to celebrate 25 years of Thailand and Bhutan diplomatic ties during which the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) launched the “Bhutan-Friendship Offer” early this year. The festival also offers everyone an opportunity to taste Thai cuisine.
It is an effort from the TCB and the tourism industry to make Bhutan a year round destination. “We have a challenge of less number of tourists coming in the summer and winter season,” the spokesperson of TCB, Damcho Rinzin said.
He said people working in the tourism industry are deprived of economic activities six months (lean season) of the year and shared his concern that it might lead to the tourism sector losing capable and willing people working in it.
“When such celebrations are conducted, the Thai’s would be getting to know it, then after that the numbers will be more,” Rinzin adds.
For such an initiative to be replicated in the future, Rinzin says the TCB will look into its impacts and feedbacks from the tourism industry.
In the next three months Thai tourists will get an offer with the daily royalty of USD $ 65 per person per night unlike USD$200. There will also be a 50% discount on airfare in Drukair and Bhutan Airlines, Hotels will offer discounts up to 50%, special airport reception arrangements on arrival and flexibility of choices in services.
Two more festival are to be conducted in the following month in July 10 and August 11. It is organized by TCB in alliance with Taj Tashi Hotels and Resorts, Zhiwaling Hotel, Baan Thai Restaurant, Yegyel Restaurant, Haven Resort, Hotel Phuntsho Pelri, Taktshang Hotel, and Lemon Grass Restaurant.
Last year, during the three months (June, July and August) the number of Thai tourists in Bhutan was about 700 but this year for the June month alone, the arrivals were noted at 1666 and is still increasing.
In this three months time frame TCB has a target of 3000 Thai tourists coming to visit Bhutan. TCB also hosted three groups of Thai media and journalists as an initiative to encourage Thai tourists to visit Bhutan.
“The festival is also a chance to introduce the local people to taste the spiciness and tanginess of the Thai food, so they will like it,” a Restaurant Manager of Taj Tashi, Himanshu Kandpal said. He adds such initiative will promote Thai food in Bhutan and attract more Thai tourists.
Chef Karma from Hotel Taktshang said, “We have participated in this food festival for the promotion of our hotel and to a greater extent create awareness among people about the availability of Thai food in our hotel.”
One of the participants, a corporate employee, Sangay said the Thai Cuisines are fantastic even though he has tasted it before. He adds such festival will bring the Thai and Bhutanese together.