1. Project name: Community-based Sustainable Tourism
2. Project area: Phobjikha, Bhutan
3. Project linkage to national priorities, action plans, and programs:
Bhutan has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on 25 August 19951. The Sustainable Development Agreement with Netherlands and other bilateral and international contracts bind the country to take necessary steps in fulfilling its share in the preservation of biodiversity and the environment. The Integrated Conservation and Development Program (ICDP) concept is based on the Royal Government of Bhutan’s policies of biodiversity conservation, rural economic development and decentralization. The 73rd session of the National Assembly (1995) ruled that the country must maintain not less than 60% of its area under forest cover. In its move towards conservation, the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) has established a system of protected areas, which cover 26% of its area.
Simultaneously, The RGoB emphasizes the need to enhance the economy of the not only the communities that live within but also those lying on the periphery and outside the protected areas system and calls for public participation in conservation.
4. Project rationale:
Phobjikha is increasingly becoming a favored destination for most tourists and national visitors alike. This has come with the challenge of maintaining and conserving the biodiversity and ecological richness of the valley that is becoming vulnerable to anthropogenic interventions. The valley encompasses one of the biggest habitats for the globally endangered Black-necked Cranes, which is one of the main attractions for visitors. With easy access and relatively light conservation rules and regulations in the area, (as compared to national parks) conserving this birds and its habitat has become a major challenge for conservation organizations.
In such a scenario, local people play a major role in the future of environment conservation in the area. Therefore integrating community needs with conservation objectives has become crucial for success of conservation. Alternative programs like the community-based sustainable tourism (CBST) offers livelihood choices that is extremely important in the context of current situation where tourism is increasing inevitably in the area.
Economically, local people in Phobjikha still depend heavily on potato cultivation, which generates one time annual income. The national tourism policy characterized by fixed tariffs has failed to bring direct benefit to the local communities. CBST has the potential to bring the benefit directly to people at the grassroots level.
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This article is quoted from Tourism ROI Newsletter published on 2010-04-20.
This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.