Yak Adventure Travel - Committed professionals offering “The Best way to see Bhutan"

By educating and creating awareness amongst the travellers of the unique nomadic lifestyle prevalent in the mountains, to respect local laws governing culture, environmental preservation practices. To appreciate lifestyle in the mountains by encouraging travellers to purchase and utilize materials available locally creating an outlet for the locals for their excess produce without imposing any demand for imported commodities. This would be another source of income.

These inhabitants must be encouraged not to become too dependent on tourism or view tourism as a priority in their daily lifestyle by changing their lifestyle to suit tourists’ expectation in order to reap immediate ...

About You

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Contact Information

Title

Mr.

First name

Sithar

Last name

Tamang

Your job title

CEO

Name of your organization

Yak Adventure Travel

Organization type

Organization Type

Annual budget/currency

Annual Budget/Currency

Mailing address

Langjuphakha , Thimphu , P.O..Box 1136, GPO :Thimphu : Bhutan

Telephone number

Telephone Number

Postal/Zip Code

Country

Bhutan

Email address

Alternative email address

Alternative email address

Your idea

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This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.

Street Address

Langjuphakha , Thimphu , P.O.Box 1136

City

Langjuphakha

State/Province

Thimphu

Postal/Zip Code

Country

Bhutan

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of benefit to residents for the destination .

Organization size

Please select one

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Year innovation began

2003

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Destination aesthetics, Indigenous people.

Name Your Project

Yak Adventure Travel - Committed professionals offering “The Best way to see Bhutan"

Describe Your Idea

By educating and creating awareness amongst the travellers of the unique nomadic lifestyle prevalent in the mountains, to respect local laws governing culture, environmental preservation practices. To appreciate lifestyle in the mountains by encouraging travellers to purchase and utilize materials available locally creating an outlet for the locals for their excess produce without imposing any demand for imported commodities. This would be another source of income.
These inhabitants must be encouraged not to become too dependent on tourism or view tourism as a priority in their daily lifestyle by changing their lifestyle to suit tourists’ expectation in order to reap immediate ...

Innovation

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What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

To maintain and preserve the local lifestyle and environment by providing incentives to discourage inhabitants migrating to the cities forsaking a way of life.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

By educating and creating awareness amongst the travellers of the unique nomadic lifestyle prevalent in the mountains, to respect local laws governing culture, environmental preservation practices. To appreciate lifestyle in the mountains by encouraging travellers to purchase and utilize materials available locally creating an outlet for the locals for their excess produce without imposing any demand for imported commodities. This would be another source of income.

These inhabitants must be encouraged not to become too dependent on tourism or view tourism as a priority in their daily lifestyle by changing their lifestyle to suit tourists’ expectation in order to reap immediate benefits that may be gained from the tourists at the their cost which may be long term and irreversible.

Tourism policies must be implemented in consultation with the local stake holders to limit the negative impact on the environment, culture and lifestyle.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

Suitable nomadic candidates must be indentified and given hands on training in their localities and be made partners in tourism. Such trainings could include: local area guiding to places of local importance and interest, basic general helpers in campsites, to be providers of local materials such as vegetables, dairy produce, cultural programs unique to that area, introduction to local cuisine and house visits. Local stake holders must take ownership of their locality in checking on water pollution, disposable of imported waste and general upkeep of indentified campsites.

Impact

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Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

As an adventure travel operator, we have been successful in our approach in that the local persons are willing and receptive to our needs and understand their role as service providers as hosts and the importance of having a good understanding. Local stake holders have been instrumental in guiding our clients in exposing their local culture through positive interactions.

All our groups are equipped sufficiently in order not to deprive the locals of their limited resources. Our trekking guides are trained in trash management and have intensive knowledge of preservation of environment and conservation of forests. Due to these practices we have successfully minimized negative impacts at any area creating much needed goodwill.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your work, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Local Community leaders are always taken into consideration and consulted about local conditions, about climatic conditions, trekking routes.

These community leaders are encouraged to involve the local community to develop camp sites, improve water source and general area development which would be used at present or in future.

Communities that are receptive to tourist needs have benefited financially in many ways, not only through direct monetary transaction but through funds made available from the National Tourism authority on our recommendation

Considering the benefits, almost all communities have been receptive and in nearly all cases have become willing partners in local tourism development.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

For the traveler each destination has its different natural charm because of the location, populace and the size of the village. Bhutan has no mass tourism and as there are only a few travelers in any village at one time, all travelers are viewed as guests by the locals and treated as such. Having being treated as a guest and being able to host travelers has immense satisfaction to both parties.
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Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Educating the traveler is done prior to the journey. An informed traveler appreciates information and conducts themselves accordingly without inviting any adverse reaction. Regarding the locals, Physical demonstration is much appreciated and the only solution. In many cases, lack of total exposure and impounded by lack of education is a barrier to any explanation.

Evaluation on the demonstrations imparted can only be done once the locals physically try for themselves to show their understanding. Later visits can also indicate the level of understanding achieved.

This Entry is about (Issues)

Sustainability

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How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

The initiative presently is being financed through Royalty and the Tourism Development Fund Collection both of which I have no control over the expenditure. However this is not to say that we are not contributing to this initiative. We are arranging tours to these areas, strongly promoting treks generating income for these areas and contributing to a better lifestyle.

As a small organization, we at Yak Adventure Travels feel proud to have contributed (US$ 172,000.00) in the year 2007 to this noble account through our clients, however insignificant numbers of clients may have been.

Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? Is there a potential demand for your innovation?

No.
Since government agencies at all levels are to be involved along with committed experts expatriates or nationals would need to be engaged, the financial implication may prove to be beyond my capability.

Identifying the needs of the locals and finding appropriate experts would require lengthy research. The duration would also be influenced by resource and finance made available.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

Limited financial resource at hand and location of my company has restricted to promote my project elsewhere. Whilst I have a website, the number of viewers cannot be guaranteed and therefore I am dependent on my clients word of mouth publicity.

Given access to a medium that would give me better mileage and publicity I would certainly promote my initiative more strongly and frequently.

What is your plan to expand or further develop your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

Given the resources, I would like to conduct satellite awareness programs relating to Tourism, Forest Conservation, Cultural promotion and health issues in these places directed towards the inhabitants and to involve them as share holders.

The Story

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Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

Name: Sithar Tamang
Gender: Male
Age: 39 years.
Occupation: C.E.O. Yak Adventure Travel
Nationality : Bhutanese.

Yak Adventure is a company that was started by me in 2003 with the intention of a business venture attracted by the opportunities, little investment and cross culture interaction. As a person, having partnered another trekking firm earlier, I felt I had the confidence to manage my own company with a different perspective and to offer employment to younger less fortunate persons.

What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

With the changing trends in Tourism in Bhutan and the liberalization of tourism and taking into account limited development activities in my ancestral village whilst in the process of growing up, I have never forgotten the hardship I faced or the quality of life that was not available at that time. This is possibly because my ancestral village is located in a fairly remote area and not part of the tourism master plan.

Since starting my Adventure agency, I have always had the desire to share some of my success with persons in similar circumstances to those in my village. The places that best suited to what I wanted to do and related to the nature of my business is villages in the mountains. To fulfill my personal goal, I have taken upon myself to give back some benefits to these villages in any small measure that I can or afford.

To me, Tourism is a partnership which entails not only taking but giving as well. To have sound long term sustaining tourism, partnerships have to be developed, ownerships have to be taken and a platform based on equity and trust to be implemented.

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.

Since the inception of tourism in Bhutan, the guiding principle has been Low volume ~ High Value”. This has been a successful formula in which Tourists, Tour operators and the government have been partners in successfully achieving the principles of controlling negative impacts of tourism whilst reaping the benefits and utilizing the revenue earned in the national developmental programs ultimately benefiting the people and creating a harmonious environment amongst all the above stake holders.

Tourists coming to Bhutan may not be aware that they are stake holders in contributing to the development of the not only tourism but also Infrastructure development benefiting every citizen throughout the country.

From the daily tariff of US$ 200 per person per night paid as a package to Yak Adventure, 35% of the above tariff which incidentally is laid down by the Government is considered as Royalty and deducted from source and deposited in the Government account to be used for national developmental activities throughout the nation. This is a mandatory deduction which primarily is used to support free health care and education. The better the business: the bigger the contribution.

Tourists are also subject to pay US$10.00 per person towards Tourism Development Fund. This fund maintains and sustains tourism infrastructure within the country where no other funds are available. This Tourism development fund is utilized for maintenance of Trekking Paths, Trekking Routes and Camp sites cleaning campaigns, upkeep and maintenance of community huts on trek routes. These community huts are under the care of persons from that particular area where these community huts are located, providing service and facilities for tourists and employment to persons in that area.

The people in these destinations on the mountains benefit directly from tourism through hire of Yaks, Horses and trekking help assistants and through purchases of fresh vegetables, meat or dairy products.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

Participation by the local administration, District administration and the National Tourism authority would be essential to implement trainings to benefit locally. Local administration could be involved by educating them the importance of becoming stakeholders.

Creating awareness about the importance of tourism through these authorities
would be helpful but not be restricted to tourism activities only as awareness on health, hygiene, forest conservation, sexually transmitted diseases etc could be imparted as well.

Comments

Dana Frasz profile img
Wed, 05/20/2009 - 17:18

Hello Mr. Tamang,

What are you doing to engage the local government? Have you met any resistance from the government? If so, why?

Thanks for your responses.

Dana Frasz
Ashoka's Changemakers