Taken for a ride

Taken for a ride

The Nomad’s festival that was recently organized by the Ministry of Agriculture was a good idea. The event, which was meant to show off our nomadic culture, heritage and traditions, also sought to help our nomads sell their produce while, at the same time, promoting “off season” tourism.

But, the choice of the location is questionable. Transporting 90 nomadic groups from eight dzongkhags to Bumthang was not a good idea. Tourists perceive Bumthang to be too cold at this time of the year. And, Bumthang does not have a large enough local population to interact with the nomads and buy their produce. Hence, the low tourist count, and complaints from the nomads themselves.

If the idea was to spread the benefits of tourism, the festival should have been organized in Trashigang. The winters there are milder and the entire Brokpa community descends to the valleys naturally at this time of the year. So, the festival would have created a rare tourist attraction in the East. In addition, the local population there is big enough to naturally sustain a market for seasonal nomadic produce.

Otherwise, the festival should have been organized in Punakha, where the entire nomadic community of Gasa spends their winters, and is easily accessible to the nomads of Haa, Paro, Thimphu and Wangduephodrang.

And Bumthang? It already receives a disproportionate share of attention. Five of the 15 festivals advertised in the TCB website take place in Bumthang, and the valley already hosts other government-sponsored tourism events like the Mastutake Festival.

So why Bumthang?

Photo credit: Kuensel


Facebook Comments:


  1. Nagsiphel was a bad venue for the Nomad Festival. I agree. But why Bumthang? I think that is a bad question.

  2. The reason is simple, as minister for agriculture is from bhumthang. so could be the proposal of some chamchas of the minister.

  3. dorji thongja says

    As far as the beauty of the area is concerned neither Punakha nor Trashigang can be more suitable than Nagsiphel. I have been there and the place is so beautiful. I think any boby call fall in love with the very beautiful valleys of Bumthang. As far as the weather is concerned, I do agree that Punakha and Trashigang are warmer. In terms of the no. of nomads, there are many in Bumthang too. Many could have moved down from Kaktong, Tshampa, and Dhur Tshachu areas with their cattle at this time of the year.

  4. It is indeed an great initiative by the agriculture minister to come up with such a festival for the Nomads around this time of the year. It may ahve been cold but I think they tried hard to think of ways to attract tourists during the lean season -winter. However, the marketing or for that matter awareness was really bad. Its was a real hush hush festival. I think the organizers were scared that the tour operators would bring tourists there and hence the very secretive approach. There was not much awareness and nobody knew about it. What a shame. The locals and nomads who came there would have done some productive selling of their items if the tourists numbers were substantial. Emphasis was on tourism but awareness was not done appropriately.


  5. I totally agree with OL on this!!! I was thinking why Bumthang??? how does it become a catchment area at this time of the year when we jolly well know everyone moves away from the cold there. After bringing in the nomads all the way there, it is a pity that they really didn’t benefit much from this festival and the worse part- many tourist operators were not even aware of this? i believe there weren’t much publicity about it but i also believe how could our tour operators remain so ignorant of such an event happening in the country?

  6. Despite the shortcomings, as in almost every new venture by anyone, I cannot help feeling appreciation for the simple fact that a ‘concrete’ initiative was taken. Who took the initiative does not matter to me, but that the initiative was taken.

  7. Having the festival in Bumthang is the Minister’s political decision. What a waste of government money and opportunity. Please stop playing politics with our nation’s limited resources.

  8. I wonder if TCB was at all engaged or at least informed about the festival. Normally different organizations organizes such kind of events targeting tourists without the knowledge of TCB, which I suppose should be taking lead in organizing such an event, therefore the events fail to attract the tourists. I feel TCB with tourism experts would be in a better position to identify venue, time and events in regard to tourism promotion. Failing to achieve the strategic purpose (if it is to attract tourists during the low season, unless otherwise)then it is waste of resources and time and it purely indicates the lack of proper coordination among the agencies concerned.

  9. Dear OL and others,
    The festival is linked to WCP with its HQ in Nasiphey. The objective of the festival is not just to attract tourists – that is just one of many which include the promotion of naomadic culture, interaction among nomads and with others, promoting peoples’ participation in conservation and promoting sustainable livelihood options for nomads – eco-tourism is just one such option besides livestock and medicinal herbs. About the venue – who is complaining? Not the nomads, not the huge crowd who came there. I am sure the MoA can arrange a CD for those of you who want tp participate from the comfort of your sitting room. One last thing – the event was planned and organised by the WCP, the Dzongkhag adm and the Department of Livestock since a year almost but was never intended to be promoted as a tourism product, at least for this year.
    On the one hand, you are complaining of logistics and on the other hand you are suggesting Tashogang or Punakha. Makes no sense at all. It is not just Layaps and Merak-Saktengpas who are jobs. Jops from Haa (OL is unfortunately not one of them), Soi Yaksa, Laya and Lingshi could reach Bumthang in one day. Similarly, jops from Merak-Sakteng and Trashiyagtse could reach Bumthang in one day. In eiher of the venues suggested by OL, it would take two days for one of the two. Besies, have you ever seen a yak in Punakha or Trashigang?

  10. Dear Toula.
    you are one who is involved in organization where u from WCP. District adm or department of l ivestock……….you have done nothing well. you fail to achieve what you intend to do….. instead our highlander friends were harnessed.
    plan and do …doing is not enough you have do well. don’t trouble them…. let tourist see them where they live- Eco-tourism. don’t ex[loite them….

  11. respected,,
    dont angry every body is part of life so calm down la

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