Through Home stay as an initiative of Royal Society for the Protection of Nature (RSPN), to help farmers in the country to mint income through tourism sector, the communities of Phojikha and Gangtey gewog under Wangduepdodrang dzongkhag are already into successful business.
As of now there are 20 homestays in two gewogs who offer accommodation facilities with each homestay with the capacity to accommodate four persons in two rooms. Gangtey have 10 households which provide home stay, while Phobjikha also have another 10 households which provide home stay.
According to Phobji Gup Jamtsho, local people in Phobji areas have immensely benefited thorough home stay project by RSPN in helping farmers earn extra income aside farming. He said that number of home stay have increased in short span of time from its introduction to the farmers.
“More farmers are willing to start with home stay business looking at the benefit they reap from it” Phobji Gup Jamtsho said. He added that the owners have received management training for home stay along with the amenities for basic modern sanitation and other accommodation facilities.
One of the home stay provider Tshering Lham, 33 from Gangtey said that Phobjikha being one of the top tourist destinations in the country due to its prime habitat of the black neck crane, each year tourist visiting Phobjikha area is increasing and visitors was finding difficult in getting adequate logging and shelter.
Hence she said that she was encouraged to start home stay without having to invest much capital with the noble idea of RSPN. She added that she started home stay from 2012 and saw increasing number of tourist looking for accommodation her place.
“I received three small groups of tourist last year and one big group this year” Tshering Lham said. Further she said that the income she made could enhance her livelihood.
While another home stay provider pema Choki said that earlier Gangtey lack accommodation for the tourist during the peak season and home stay has been seen as a right means to curb accommodation problem and make income from tourism in return.
She said that both the tourist and the local people get to experience and exchange new things which the home stay entails living and learning about the way of life of local people having to stay overnight in the households, consuming local food and drinks, interaction with family members, and participation in daily household chores such as cooking, milking of cow etc.
Depending on the season, visitors may also have the opportunity to participate in gardening and farm activities including crop plantation, harvesting etc.
Phobjikha due to its significance as an important conservation area is an ideal place for establishing community-based sustainable tourism (CBST). Starting 2003 the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) had been implementing the project on CBST through its Conservation and Sustainable Livelihood Program.
The project has initiated with its objective to foster community participation in facilitation and delivery of tourism services and facilitate the local community to manage homestay in an efficient and economically viable manner.
Home Stays are introduced in many places in the country which are potential in tourism destination and RSPN have more places identified to boost homestay after the success story form Phobjikha and Gangtey.