Bhutan to slash its daily tourist fee by half from 1 September

bhutan tourist fee 2023 tours
bhutan tourist fee 2023 tours

In a bid to attract more foreign travellers to explore its stunning locales, Bhutan is reducing its daily tourist fee by half.

Since September 2022, travellers had to pay an additional USD 200 (approx. SGD 271) per night as part of the ‘Sustainable Development Fee’ (SDF). This is now being reduced to just USD 100 (approx. SGD 136), and is slated to come into effect from 1 September 2023.

Why has Bhutan reduced its daily tourism fee?

bhutan tourist fee 2023 tourism
Image credit: Pema Gyamtsho/Unsplash

A major reason behind this step is the fact that even a year after Bhutan resumed travel post the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is still struggling to revive its tourism sector and bring in more globetrotters, writes Reuters.

In September 2022, the SDF was increased to USD 200 from the earlier USD 65 a night in an attempt to reduce the carbon footprint that travellers bring to the kingdom, according to the report. However, the charge seems to have resulted in a decrease in the number of travellers visiting Bhutan.

With the new update, Bhutan – one of the most beautiful cities in Asia – hopes to boost income generated through tourism. The new tax will be applicable for four years and end on August 31, 2027, according to a statement by the Bhutanese government.

The statement says, “This [change in the tourist fee] is in view of the important role of the tourism sector in generating employment; earning foreign exchange, realising the potential for spillover benefits for ancillary industries, and in boosting overall economic growth.”

Along with the waiver, Bhutan will also provide 50 percent discount on the SDF for children between 6 and 12 years of age. This means that for children belonging to this age group, the tourist fee will now be USD 50 per night, clarifies the government. Those aged below six will not be charged the SDF. Additionally, the 24 hours SDF waiver for tourists staying in the border towns will continue, according to the statement.

For Indian visitors (those who have an Indian passport or voter ID) to Bhutan, the tourist fee applicable will be BTN 1,200 (USD 14.52) per night. Discounts and waivers on the SDF are applicable to Indian children, too.

The government will conduct periodic assessments of scenarios with respect to both domestic and international tourism. The incentives may be discontinued to promote the High Value Low Volume tourism policy of Bhutan after August 31, 2027, adds the statement.

Find out more here.

Hero and featured image credit: Pema Gyamtsho/Unsplash

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