Souvenir Development Training in Haa
As part of the Community-based Sustainable Tourism (CBST) Project in Haa, Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and Japan Environmental Education Fund (JEEF) conducted a week-long souvenir development training in Haa from December 12-16, 2016 with the technical support from Agency for Promotional of Indigenous Crafts (APIC) and local experts. The practical hands on training was focused mainly on yak hair products and stone paintings.
During the training, participants were trained on how to soften the yak-hair, to segregate the fluffy yak hair from rough yak-hair and to spin the yak-hair to make handicraft products. An expert from APIC trained the participants to make two different types of key hangers while Ugyen, a local expert, trained them on two traditional indigenous patterns.
14 early school leavers from Bjee, Kartso and Eusu Gewog participated in the training. The participants were positive that they could sell their handcraft products next year during the Haa Summer Festival. They even plan to display the products at Chelela point which sees hundreds of tourist in a week.
During the last day of the training, Dasho Dzongda met with all the participants. Haa being located at a high altitude, Dasho commented that the cash income from agriculture products was very less compared to other Dzongkhags. So, he added that the community of Haa should take advantage of the potential market and produce more local indigenous souvenirs. Further, Dasho also encouraged the participants to form a Souvenir Development Group and seek funding from relevant agencies routing the proposals through Haa Dzongkhag Administration. APIC also suggested the participants to form community groups and apply for revolving fund/interest free loans starting from Nu. 200,000 to 400,000 from their office.
The Royal Society for Protection of Nature and the Japan Environmental Education Forum (JEEF) are the main implementing partners. The project is implemented with guidance of the steering committee representing Tourism Council of Bhutan, Association of Bhutanese Tour Operator, Guide Association of Bhutan, Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division, Dzongkhag Administration and other tourism stakeholders.
The week-long souvenir development training ended successfully with a plan to institute a live demonstration on using yak hair to make handicraft products as “Hands on Activity” and produce different varieties of handicraft products to be sold at the upcoming Visitor Center.