Rural Ecotourism Products & Services
Supported & Funded by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, this project is implemented by Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators.
The main outcome of the project on “Enhancing the promotion of rural community tourism products and services in Bhutan through the development and implementation of an online system” is the establishment of a robust web based system for showcasing rural community tourism products and services for promotion through tour operators.
The proposed system will be developed as part of ABTO website (www.abto.org.bt) interface by having an additional drop down menu (Example: Working With Rural Communities) for visibility, effective marketing and creating immediate impact on the project since tour operators are familiar with ABTO website. Moreover, such integration will not only cut down charges related to web hosting, annual renewable fee, space etc. but also makes ABTO responsible for ownership and sustainable management of the system as part of corporate social responsibility and value added services for tour operators and rural communities. Hence, the accurate and up-to-date information of the tourism products and services of each community group is important for ABTO to share through the website as the site is accessible to the public.
The main content of the website includes background of each community group, area of interest, information on tourism activities, products and services, standard rates, contact details and the benefits of the system to tour operators and communities for networking, linkages, collaboration and joint marketing.
The content of the website will be updated and managed by ABTO at all time. Nevertheless, the project will build up capacity of atleast 6 community people (mostly girls) from three community groups for using the system. Those people will be the main contact point for ABTO to get up-to-date information on the respective community for updating the content of the website. Support services will be extended to them through use of online services (internet and social media) and also intermediary agencies (field offices of RSPN and Park Management) wherever possible for facilitation inorder to enhance their capacity for updating the content of their respective community group. This may not be possible immediately but definitely, ABTO will work towards empowering rural community group through support services and constant engagement for sharing the responsibilities and taking ownership of their respective community group site/content for regular update and management.
The Project Steering Committee (PSC) comprising of atleast one representative from relevant agencies such as Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Guide Association of Bhutan (GAB), Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan (HRAB), Handicraft Association of Bhutan (HAB), Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division (NWCD) under Department of Forests and Park Services and ABTO will be formed for the overall guidance and management of the project. The representative will also serve as a contact point for supporting the implementation of the project both within and beyond the project period.
The system will be piloted by engaging three community group (Bumthang, Wangdiphodrang and Haa) for familiarization and effective implementation. Then, the system will be introduced to other community group through these three community groups, RSPN, Department of Agriculture and Park Management for extending the opportunity and ensure that at the end of the project atleast 5 community groups in total will benefit from the system. ABTO will make consistent effort to scale up the initiatives across the country by engaging as many rural community group as possible and ensures that at the end by 2020 atleast 15 community groups from across Bhutan will be benefited through this online system.