Impression of Distribution of the 2024 Calendars, Promotion of the ‘Villages of the Month’ and the SHINE E-Commerce.

The SHINE project, a team from GrAT, reached out to 208 offices, hotels, and restaurants in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha, in order to distribute the third series of SHINE calendars – “Fermented and Dried Food of Eastern and Southern Bhutan” and the promotional leaflets. In the course of interaction with the stakeholders, the team actively marketed the products from the “Villages of the Month – Merak and Sakteng” for February 2024, and also raised awareness about the SHINE e-commerce platforms in the hotels and restaurants in Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha.

Amidst the ongoing revival of tourism in Bhutan, a noticeable influx of tourists was observed. However, a portion of tour operators, hotels, and restaurants appeared to be inactive, partially operational, or undergoing renovation. The consequences of the extended closure were apparent. Nevertheless, there was an overall sense of recovery, especially evident in the 5-star-rated hotels.

Several upscale hotels affirmed their commitment to aligning with the global tourism trend by offering authentic indigenous products and experiences.

“Our hotel management has already been involved in an initiative called ‘Sustainable Cooperatives’ with support from our Head Office in Singapore, and Europe. We worked with Tsirang and Dagana districts in the past, and now we are working with Chukha district for the supply of local agricultural produce to our hotels in Aman Kora.” – Mr. Sonam Tshering, HRO Aman Kora, Thimphu.

Attention of the tourism establishments was brought into for the products from Merak and Sakteng, in Trashigang, including fermented yak cheese and the unique textile products. Coincided with the Auspicious Month (Chothrul Dawa), dried yak meat could not be promoted due to the strict prohibition on the sale of meat and fish during this period. Reservation, however, will be taken for the following months. The potential customers are looking forward to seeing a broader range of products and services in the SHINE’s e-commerce tools, to order the indigenous agri-and food products from the eastern and southern regions.  The e-commerce platform facilitates buyers and sellers to directly engage in the tourism value chain.

“We are looking for such platforms or suppliers for local organic agricultural products to serve our guests. I hope the SHINE e-commerce will enable us to link 3 or 4 products’ suppliers in the future so that we don’t have to stroll in the markets in Thimphu.” – F&B Manager, Uma, Paro. 

“Here in our restaurant, we don’t serve Chinese cuisines, basically to avoid MSG and other preservative ingredients. We strive to serve only organic foods to our guests and have our own meat and vegetable dryer in our hotel. The moment I saw your calendar heading ‘fermented and dried foods’, I sensed the concepts aligned with our goal! We have a Sustainable Manager in Thimphu who looks after and supports all these works.” – Mr. Tshering, Manager, Sixth Sense, Punakha.

Despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, there is a great sense of hope and enthusiasm among stakeholders, that they can serve more tourists soon. The SHINE project has geared up to connect them between regions, support local producers, and contribute to the growth of the industries – tourism, agriculture and handicrafts.