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Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary

Tourists ready or not, homestay is - Five of the nine tourism council-identified village homes feel ready to try out homestay tourists

Five households in Bumdeling, Baychen and Rinchengang in Trashiyangtse have completed restructuring their homes as deemed fit by tourism authorities to introduce homestay for tourists.

Homestay, tourism officials said allows tourists to live with the host villagers to experience firsthand rural lifestyle, tradition and culture.

It also created that more informal and homely environment for tourists to experience with traditional Bhutanese families.

Three houses in Bayling and Bhimkhar have restructured their homes with Nu 10,000 each they were provided by the government, to start homestay.

"The review team from tourism council a few weeks back passed my house for homestay," one of the identified homestay host in Bayling, Chorten Dhendup said.

The council and dzongkhag authorities chose the hosts-to-be along with their houses based on the strength of the houses, their foundations, space and the possibility of restructuring them.

"Now my home is ready to receive the guests," Chorten Dhendup said. "The team has told us that very soon our homes will be open to guests through advocacy on internet," another homestay owner, Thukten Tshering from Bumdeling said.

Dzongkhag officials, however, said the homes would be ready to receive guests only by 2013.

"Although some of the owners have completed restructuring works, they'll be able to receive guests only by next year," Dzongda Sangay Duba said.

Restructuring works began since 2011 the same time homestay in Trashiyangtse was planned in September 2011.

Tourism council officials had identified around nine homes in Yangtse and Bumdeling gewogs for the purpose.

Only five of the nine houses the council approved have improved their homes to suit the need of tourists.

Sangay Duba said there were still certain things to be worked out in internal management like toilets and kitchens.

For that, he said they were going to ask Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators if there was a way to help the owners with basic necessities so they will be able to receive guests by next year.

Tourism council officials had recommended attached toilet and partitioned rooms among others.

Once complete dzongkhag officials said they would advertise the availability of improved facilities with tourism council and tour operators' association to send their guests.

Sangay Duba said introducing homestay at the time tourism council officials deem fit was difficult because of resource constraints.

"We're now trying to explore possibilities to link these homestays with some agencies interested in joint venture," he said.

Nevertheless, a homestay in Bumdeling was already operational.

Thukten Tshering has been catering to officials from the dzongkhag visiting the villages.

"Although no tourists have arrived at my place so far, I've begun serving food and providing accommodation to officials visiting the village," Thukten Tshering said.

Source: KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2012

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