After remaining dormant for years, the visitor information centre in Haa has finally opened. Constructed prior to the onset of the pandemic, the centre was unable to fulfil its intended purpose. As a result, the district administration handed over the centre to a group of youth recently. The centre was established to promote Haa as one of the tourist destinations.
A seven-member group will run the visitor information centre. They have yet to operate the centre.
“We have signed an agreement with the group for now. The Department of Tourism is providing them with expertise. The group will provide services like guiding tourists, selling arts and crafts and providing eatery services. So, through this initiative, we are optimistic that we will be able to provide opportunities for our youth,” said Melam Zangpo, Haa Dzongda.
“From the visitor information centre, tourists will get information about services that they will require while in Haa. For example, they will get information about accommodations, star-rated hotels, hiking details and cultural events. Moreover, for the community, they will be provided with community services such as G2C services from the centre,” said Phub Zam, an assistant tourism officer.
“After we came back to the village, two of my friends and I started promoting tourism in our district. Our aim is to let guests spend at least a night in the district because tourists usually eat lunch and return,” said Wangdi, Chairman of the visitor information centre.
Some tour operators were also invited on a familiarization tour to Haa after the youth group took over the centre.
“Earlier we used to promote Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Gangtey mostly. And we also did eastern tours like Bumthang, Trongsa, and Zhemgang. Now, as we know more about Haa and the experience that we came across during this three-day fam-tour, we can easily sell Haa valley to an additional height,” said Deya Pradhan, a tour operator from Thimphu.
“Not many people have come here but we could find some authentic and organic stuff that will be of interest to our clients. We will try our best to bring them here. Honestly, Haa will not be on the priority list on our agenda because people come to visit Taktshang, the iconic product of our country,” said Khenrab Andrew Darjee, another tour operator.
According to the records maintained with the Department of Tourism, from 2015 to 2020, Haa received over 31,000 tourists. Of it, more than 11,000 are international tourists.