7 June, Phajoding: While tourism generates substantial revenue for the country, it is essential that programmes and activities that bring economic opportunities to local communities are encouraged. With this intention, Phajoding eco-campsite was developed to enhance the social, cultural, and environmental opportunities. Given the historical and cultural richness of Phajoding and the fact that it is already used as a tourism destination as part of the Druk Path Trek (between Paro and Thimphu), the Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division (NRED) under the Department of Forests and Park Services initiated the development of the campsite. This project intends to link tourism development with cultural preservation and environmental conservation.
HE Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister of Agriculture and Forests graced the inauguration of the Phajoding campsite as the Chief Guest. Models like the Phajoding campsite that promotes sustainable tourism to increase people’s appreciation and support for the conservation of our cultural and natural heritage, will go a long way in realising our national goal of Gross National Happiness. The model and its management will also help develop other ecotourism sites in the country with similar opportunities.
The campsite has basic facilities strictly incorporating traditional and environmentally friendly designs. The Eco-campsite has four camping grounds that can accommodate around 15–20 people. Each camping ground can accommodate about two 2-men tents and one 1-man tent at spacious intervals.
There is also a shelter house with two rooms to accommodate about 8-16 people. There are two gazebos (a medium sized circular one to accommodate around 10 people and a large sized rectangular one to accommodate around 20 people).
Facilities also include separate toilets with a bathroom for both men and women, Common kitchen with cooking shelves and water supply. It is estimated to facilitate about 25-30 tourists per day, comprising a maximum of two large groups or three smaller groups.
A management guideline was also developed that considers minimal impact on natural environment and cultural & traditions. The fund management modality is in place. While this will encourage the monks to conserve our natural and cultural heritage, strict considerations have also been taken that the monks will not engage in any other tourism and economic activities that will deviate from their studies. The success of this campsite will act as model for other campsite development in the country, both in terms of designs and management.
Phajoding is one of the most sacred and important cultural sites in the country with strong historical grounding rooted in the 13th Century. It also forms a part of the most popular Druk Path Trek, with as high as 30% of tourist trekkers using this trek annually. Up until now, the area is heavily used by tourists and pilgrims especially during peak season with severe impacts including solid waste generation.
The development of Phajoding eco-campsite was funded by Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation and RGoB.
– Reported by Tandin Dorji, ICS with Photo by Choidup Zangpo, ICS
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