It may be sooner than later that commuters along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway can make their journey pleasant by visiting recreational park and roadside amenities along highway. This is one of the plans under the tourism flagship program aimed at enhancing economic growth through sustainable tourism development.
The main objective of the program is to raise awareness on tourism, understand tourism initiatives in LG plans in the 12th FYP and prioritize and recommend tourism projects and programs under the flagship program.
The development of Dagala to Tshamdra & Paga in Chapcha Gewog, rafting from Lingden to Amochu and development of Dhamdaraney at Phuntsholing Gewog and cycling route from damsite to Gedu via Shawgayla lake are other new tourism products under discussion.However, the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) will choose only 3 activities upon further discussion with high level officials at headquarter. The expected outcome is to draft a tourism flagship blueprint for each dzongkhag. The program is expected to conduct in all the 20 dzongkhags.
In line to this, Chukha Dzongda, Minjur Dorji, said that if approved and implemented successfully, the products will have immense benefit not only to the tourists (both regional and international) but also to the public of Chukha. “It will also benefit the commuters along Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway,” the Dzongda added.
As per records with TCB, Bhutan received a total of 254,704 tourists of which 71,417 are international tourist and 183,287 are regional tourist in 2017. In addition, the gross tourism receipt is USD 400 million (mn), direct revenue is USD 23(Sustainable Development Fee) mn and gross convertible currency is USD 79 mn.
The record also shows that the tourism sector creates 28,000 employment opportunities.There are 2,000 plus tour operators in the country with 2,300 tour guides. Meanwhile, some of the challenges and key issues are the lack of a tourism policy and act, and rapid growth of regional tourism.
Concentration of tourism in few dzongkhags is also another challenge. However, there are associated challenges and issues in Chukha, of whichthe first is the limited tourist accommodation facilities, inadequate amenities and services (restrooms/restaurants/guides/car rentals/tour operators, and lack of product development initiatives.
Some of the other challenges are limited marketing and promotion, lack of trained human resource in tourism and hospitality, lack of community benefits and limited database on tourism resources.
Chukha isrich in natural and cultural assets, with the potential for adventure tourism like, trekking, mountain biking, rafting and kayaking, and recreation tourism like, water based activities at Chukha/Tala Hydropower projects.
It also has the potential for nature based tourism like, birding,cultural, hiking, local festivals and events, pleasant weather in winter and good connectivity and ideal destination for meetings and conferences.
The consultative meeting on Tourism Flagship Program was led by the chief tourism officer in September. The meeting was attended by all the Gups, GAOs and forestry official and was chaired by the Chukha Dzongda.