The number of tourists in Bhutan is expected to increase with the opening of the Trans Bhutan Trail, The Bhutan Live reported. The Trans Bhutan Trail stretches 4,033 km between Haa in the far west and Trashigang in the east and crosses 27 villages and nine districts of Bhutan. The Trans Bhutan Trail was not used as the main route of transportation after the construction of Bhutan’s first national highway in 1962. Its maintenance was totally neglected which led to the collapse of bridges, footpaths and stairways with the passage of time.
The Trans Bhutan Trail was revived after 60 years and the credit goes to Bhutan’s King whose vision was to preserve the nation’s unique past. The Trail dates back to the 16th century when it was the only means of transportation for rulers, tourists, monks, traders and those trail runners called ‘ garps’ whose work was to deliver political messages to the dzongs across the country.
The Trans Bhutan Trail organisation, a non-profit social enterprise, has been instrumental in the popularity of the trail. The organisation helps to connect with the local guides and the local farmhouses that enable tourists to have a glimpse of rural life. Together with the Trans Bhutan Trail organisation, the guides have started creating a Trans Bhutan Trail Passport programme. To date, more than 60 “Passport Ambassadors” who host tourists have spread across Bhutan and the majority of them are women, as per the news report.
Local farmers serve tourists a traditional meal at their homes while sharing their culture and heritage with their guests, The Bhutan Live reported, adding that some people offer cooking demonstrations while others indulge tourists in traditional hot stone baths. The partnership empowers women to work in the tourism sector and earn a sustainable income. It also provides travellers with a deep cultural understanding and connection with some of the most remote communities and people in Bhutan, added the news report.
Zangmo, one of the women opening her house to the tourists, said, “I wanted to open the doors of my farmhouse to tourism in 2018 but then the pandemic hit and ruined my plans,” The Bhutan Live reported. She added, “Then last year, a guide from the TBT knocked on my door and invited me to be an ambassador, which changed my life. Not only can I make some extra money for my family, but I also have the opportunity to interact with people from around the world and learn new things.”
Tourists are welcomed with traditional drinks like Suja and Jaju (spinach and milk soup) and then served lunch or dinner, stated the news report, adding that they even enjoy eating Bhutanese dishes like Emma Datshi and Margu. The sight of chillies drying on the rooftops of villagers is a new experience to watch for foreign tourists, it stated further. (Source: The Bhutan Live)