In a move that has stirred excitement among the residents of Samtse, the new government has pledged to conduct feasibility studies for the construction of an airport there. Recognizing the critical role airports play in bridging communication gaps across international and national borders, the government aims to overcome the challenges posed by Bhutan’s mountainous terrains through enhanced air transport.
The residents of Samtse, eagerly awaiting the commencement of feasibility assessments, are optimistic about the potential benefits an international airport could bring to their region. Tshering Yangzom Tendruk, a resident, said, “If we were to have the airport anywhere in Samtse, I hope it will be like Paro Airport. I believe if we have an international airport, development will happen a lot quicker in Samtse, with people getting a chance to see international tourist business booming to support them as well.”
She emphasized the positive impact on students and residents in the southern and southeast regions, noting that the airport would significantly reduce travel time and distance for those who currently have to journey to Paro Airport in the west. She also highlighted the potential for increased business opportunities, with the influx of tourists driving demand for accommodations and exploration of the region’s offerings.
Kamal from Pemaling Gewog shared similar sentiments, emphasizing the advantage of saving time for Samtse residents traveling to India. While the exact location of the proposed airport remains undisclosed, Kamal suggested that Sipsu under Tashicholling Gewog could be an ideal choice.
“Typically, when we plan to travel within India, opting for a flight seems like the quickest option, especially when our destinations are in central or southern India. However, the challenge arises as we need to first travel to Paro, which is quite a distance from our location. The journey to Paro takes approximately 8 to 9 hours, making the overall travel time significantly longer. This contradicts the intended time-saving benefits of taking a flight, particularly for those residing in the southern regions,” he said.
Residents are optimistic about the benefits an airport could bring during emergencies, enhancing accessibility and response times.
Suraj, another resident of Samtse, expressed his belief that an international airport would be highly beneficial for the region’s development. He envisioned the feasibility of an airport in Damdung, below Samtse town. He said, “I expect it to be an international airport to cater to global clients as we have strategic advantage of having an airport in proximity to India, allowing residents to travel internationally more conveniently.”
In his view, domestic airports might not be as advantageous as the existing Yonphula domestic airport, given the potential for international travel.
The residents of Samtse, united in their anticipation, believe that the government’s commitment to conducting feasibility studies for international airports is a promising step towards transforming their region.
As discussions unfold and plans materialize, Samtse envisions a future where increased connectivity not only accelerates development but also opens doors to new opportunities for its residents.