The 8th Haa summer festival which took place from 13th to 14th July saw an increase in the number of tourists which is ordinarily not possible during a low season.
Several stalls were put up where the locals showcased their local cuisines, handicrafts and the nomads showed their way of life.
Traditional sports and cultural performance from foreign students was also shown.
Ha Dzongda Kinzang Dorji said “The primary purpose of this festival is to help market Haa as eco tourism destination, promote home stays, sell local products and showcase rich cultural heritage. However, we need to review the present practice of hosting this festival. The ultimate aim is to make this not only self-sustainable but also profitable to the stakeholder and the community should take the ownership of this festival.”
“We need to look at the timing of the festival and even the name of this festival accordingly. The summer festival is always on the peak of the rainy seasons and the area becomes not only muddy, it restricts travels, pose risk to visitors due to rain, road blocks and prevents visitors visiting for the festival. We are looking at the timing and perhaps change it to autumn or spring and name it accordingly,” he added.
There were about 30 stalls allotted to gewogs and CSOs. It was provided free of cost. Six Gewogs and one thromde were given 3 stalls each. The stalls are meant for sale of domestic products from the respective gewogs.
Once this festival picks up and the market share increases, certain charges shall be imposed to make it self-sustainable in the long run.
The Dzongda said, ‘There is no talk of TCB stopping to support us. However, in the long run, it is not in the interest of Dzongkhag and TCB to bear the cost of such festivals. However, we need to continue to support but slowly pass the ownership to the stakeholders.”
Mr. Damcho Rinzin from TCB said that he was informed by the Dzongkhag that there was a tremendous increase in the number of tourist arrivals.
He said that TCB does support festivals in other parts of the Bhutan as well in a similar manner.
They also support local indigenous festivals that are on the verge of dying by providing financial assistance and informing the tour operator.
He said that such festivals not only attract tourist arrivals during low seasons but also benefit the community as they are encouraged to bring their local products that further strengthens the internal economy of the country.
TCB supports about 8 festivals including the highland festival of Gasa being the biggest among all of the other festivals.