Despite the growing popularity of the annual black-necked crane festival at Gangtey in Wangdue Phodrang, the Gangtey-Phobji Environment Management Committee is worried and concerned about the sustainability of the festival due to budget constraints. The committee says they are conducting the festival entirely from donations and fees raised during the event which are insufficient.
More than five hundred tourists attended the festival this year. The committee charges a minimal entry fee of Nu 500 per head to tourists and Nu 250 to Indian tourists. The amount collected is used for conducting the festival and for managing waste. This time, Nu 300,000 was collected.
Gangtey Gup, Kinley Gyeltshen said, “There are lots of things we need to procure for the festival in keeping with the changing times. For instance, we are in need of furniture for the seating arrangement of tourists. The chairs and seats we have here today are all collected from schools and gewog offices.”
While organisers are worried about the sustainability of the festival, locals are able to make good income from the festival.
“Be it homestays or resorts, we are able to make a good income from the tourists attending the festival. If we get a good number of customers, our homestay fetches around Nu 40,000 to Nu 50,000 within two nights,” said Pemba, a homestay owner.
The annual Black-Necked Crane Festival was started in 1998 by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, RSPN. An official from RSPN says the festival was initiated by mobilising funds from various donors, and says it should sustain through coordination among communities and organisations concerned.
“We have different government agencies, local people, private hoteliers and tour companies here. It is all about coordination. If we all come together, these things can be done within a year,” said Jigme Tshering, a National Coordinator for the Black-necked Crane Conservation Programme, RSPN.
Since there is no fixed budget source for the festival, the committee is now planning to gather resources by coordinating with various agencies.