Haa Spring Trail Tour, 2017, was conducted as the part of Community-based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) projects activity to promote the destination, to let homestay owners and local guides have a practical experience in catering to the international guest. As well, for CBST team, it was good opportunity to get feedback for further improvements.
The maximum limit of the tour booking was ten, but it exceeded the limit to 18 as there was more demand from the clients. 11 Japanese, 2 Canadian, 4 American and 1 Australian dwelling in Bhutan as volunteers and expatriate partook in the Spring Trail Tour, 2017. A national guide and 3 local guides helped the guest to understand the culture of the region and the way of life its inhabitants.
Mr. Bryan, a professional humanitarian cameraman said, “Leila and I enjoyed the tour very much. It was great to travel with a group of people working and volunteering in Thimphu. It was a pleasure to return to the Haa Valley, see familiar people, and familiar places, but also visit places that we did not see on our earlier trip.”
One of the JICA volunteers said, “I was impressed by the hospitality and friendliness of the local people in Haa. It is always my highlight of the trip to have heartfelt interaction with local community. If there were more varieties of local authentic souvenirs in Haa, I would love to buy them”.
Dr. Doug Schofield, one of the participants suggested, “to provide every guest a business card of the homestay owners, and ideally the flyer with pictures and descriptions so the guests come in turn pass these on to other people who may want to visit”. Besides that, he suggested putting a few pictures on the wall, showing prior guests having the next time at the same homestay. And also more frequently check for things like running out of toilet paper, especially in the group is relatively large.
All the participants were very happy as the tour coincided with the local festival “Bali Bangkor”. It is unique local festivals which is celebrated in Bali Lhakhang once every after three year where the community gets together and contribute their own share for celebrating festive. This festival can be one of the tourism products in Haa to showcase.
Moreover, they said that, accommodation at homestay was excellent where host family is very friendly and helpful. Besides that, it was a good experience to have hands-on activity of making a buckwheat dumpling (hoentey).