Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bhutan - Booming handicraft shops in Paro

Paro is one of the popular tourist destinations in the Country. Important historical sites and its scenic surroundings make Paro a must visit place for the tourists. Also because Paro is the gateway to Bhutan by air.

Every year thousands of tourists visit Paro and as a result many handicrafts and souvenir shops have come up in recent years. A detour of the Paro town, and one will come across so many handicraft and souvenir shops. In fact these shops have outnumbered other shops like grocery, garment, and hotels. About four to five such new shops are being established every year in Paro.

How are they doing in terms of business? The shop owners say that all is not well with the business, especially at this time of the year.

Enter any shop, there is not much varieties in the items sold. Most of the items for sale are hand woven ghos and kiras, religious and old traditional items.

In order to give choice to the tourists, some of the shop owners bring similar items from Nepal and New Delhi in India. However, according to one of the shop owners, Tshering Dhendup, tourists prefer to buy locally produced garments and items. „Most of the tourists come through Nepal and India, so they are not really interested to buy.“

One of the most popular items sold during the tourist and Tshechu seasons is the hand woven ghos and kiras. Therefore, most of the shops are adorned with expensive garments like Keshutharas, Metshimathras and other embroidered Ghos and Kiras among others. There are also some tourist couples who come to Bhutan to get married.

Some of the shops have weavers for themselves so that they do not have to buy from others to sell it to the tourists. „It is cheaper and easier if we have our weavers. We can also design and weave according to the demand in the market,“ said of the shopkeepers.

One of the biggest challenges faced these shops is lack of customers, especially at this time of the year. And also as the number of shops has gone up, some of the shopkeepers say, the business is not that lucrative anymore. They also say that, roadside sellers and hawkers, during important events and occasions, also hamper their businesses.

Although tourists are scarce at this time of the season they are, in deed, looking for the tourists season to arrive in few months time. For now, that is their only hope.

There are about 50 handicraft and souvenir shops in Paro.


Leena Roy said...

I am so grateful for your article. Your location is valuable for me. Thanks!

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