Haa Summer Festival Showcases Local Culture for Tourism Promotion

   TwitCount
The 6th Haa summer Festival inauguration ceremony

Introduced by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) in 2011 to promote tourism in Haa Valley, the Haa Summer Festival is a two-day celebration of local culture.  Also known as the Monsoon Festival, the event takes place in the month of July each year. It has become a major tourist attraction in recent years. This year, the festival was observed on 8 and 9 July. The event was organized by the Haa Dzongkhag Administration with funding from TCB. Speaking at the inaugural, the guest of honour, Dasho Dzongdag (governor) of Haa said, “Haa is one of the richest districts in Bhutan in terms of natural and cultural endowment. Festivals such as this one are the perfect way to showcase this endowment.” 

Haa Valley is a pilot site of the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). It focuses on livelihood diversification through community-based sustainable tourism promotion. The ICIMOD KLCDl team participated in the event this year with support from partners to showcase knowledge products and materials related to its work. A number of tourists and locals visited the KLCDI stall. They were mainly interested in learning about ICIMOD and its Transboundary Landscape Programme.

Although it rained intermittently, the weather did not deter tourists and locals form participating in the festival. According to the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) report, more than 100 tourists and about 600 local visitors attended the festival on the first day and about 40 tourists and 400 local visitors were present on the second day. 

Mr Karma Phuntsho from ICIMOD briefing visitors on the Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) 

Aside from several stalls, the festival showcased the thriving culture of the region. There were a variety of religious performances and cultural events showcasing the region’s nomadic lifestyle, particularly yak herding. Several of the traditional songs and folks dances of Haa were also performed. The main attraction of the event was the “Ap Chundu” dance performed by female performers. Ap Chundu is the protector deity of Haa district. Other attractions of the event included traditional games such as archery, pillow fights, and flat stone swing competitions. Food stalls showcasing local Haa cuisine comprising of a wide variety of delicacies such as special buckwheat dumplings and buckwheat fried noodles added to the collection of attractions.

Members of the local young female group performing a cultural dance  

Besides, the 11 homestays in Haa Valley initiated by TCB and RSPN provided visitors an experience of the unique rural lifestyle and the heartwarming hospitality of the locals. Aside from homestays, features of rural tourism services in the area include cultural excursions and nature hikes with local guides. Through such undertakings, the local community is able to generate income while conserving nature and promoting traditional culture. Locals remain enthusiastic about turning Haa Valley into a community-based tourist hotspot through sustainable tourism. The Haa Summer Festival is an avenue that will help local people—men and women, young and old—nurture innovative ideas to attract and entertain increasing numbers of tourists and visitors to the Haa Valley.

Members of the local female group perform a cultural dance
Masked artists performing a traditional dance   
Dasho Dzongdag (governor) of Haa and Director of the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) being served tea inside a nomadic yak herder stall

Local men participating in traditional games