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