To boost the local economy through ecotourism, Tsirang Forest Division has initiated the construction of various ecotourism amenities in Sunkosh Chiwog of Rangthangling Gewog. The facilities were inaugurated and handed over to Devithan Community Forest yesterday coinciding with the eighth birthday of His Royal Highness the Gyalsey. The Devithan Community Forest Management Group which has 28 members will take charge of the facilities.
Although Sunkosh village has high-end recreational fishing services and is known to be a habitat for the endangered White-Bellied Heron, not many people visit the village. According to the people, the village does not indulge much in tourism-related activities.
So, to help villagers make income through ecotourism, the forest division has installed ecotourism amenities.
The forest division with funding from Asian Forest Cooperation constructed a hot stone bath facility with a guesthouse. There are two bathtubs. The visitors have to pay ngultrum five hundred per bathtub for an hour. Though the facility was formally opened yesterday, it has been providing the service to the public since November last year. More than 150 individuals already came to avail themselves of the service at the facility.
Kharka Singh Chhetri, a resident of Rangthangling Gewog said, “We don’t have any other income source in Sunkosh. We have farmland but we cannot grow cash crops like oranges and cardamom. Some of us earn our living as daily wage earners. We are expecting a lot from facilities like this because we can earn income when visitors visit and use the services.”
Towards the lower end of the village, the division constructed a one-kilometre eco trail. The trail takes through the lush forest overseeing the Sunkosh River, offering visitors an opportunity to watch white-belled herons. There are canopies and a toilet for visitors. Royal Society for Protection of Nature funded the eco-trail construction.
“According to a report published in the year 2022, Tsirang’s poverty rate stands at 19.5. Therefore, we need to initiate such projects to improve the livelihoods of rural people. The projects would help uplift the livelihoods of individuals and also the nation as a whole,” said Phuntsho Tobgay, the Chief Forestry Officer of the Tsirang Division Office.
The other amenities include Sunkosh Eco-Campsite and sale outlets. The campsite will cater to tourists visiting for recreational fishing and the sales outlet will provide a space for the members to market their farm produce.