At present, tourists visiting Bhutan from international destinations had to pay $250 as a minimum charge per day
In a major shift in policy, Bhutan is planning to levy charges on tourists visiting the country from regional countries, including Bangladesh, India, and the Maldives, several Indian news outlet reported. These countries were exempted from any charges till now.
As per the latest tourism policy draft prepared by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), which will likely be finalized on December by the Bhutanese Cabinet, the new charges have been brought into effect with the sharp increase in tourists from the region.
This latest draft was recently discussed by Bhutanese Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji with India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Delhi.
At present, tourists visiting Bhutan from international destinations had to pay $250 as a minimum charge per day, in which $65 was labelled as Sustainable Development Fee per day, and $40 as visa charges. All this while, tourists from Bangladesh, India, and the Maldives were not required to pay any fees or carry a visa.
Reports suggest that in 2018, of the 274,000 tourists that visited Bhutan, the council estimated that around 200,000 were from the region, of which 10,450 were from Bangladesh.
However, as per the latest tourist draft policy, Bangladeshis will also now be charged with Sustainable Development Fee and permit processing fee.
Referring to this development, the Bhutanese foreign minister denied that the new charges are aimed at cutting down tourism numbers and that in the next few years, it wants to allow them to “grow in a sustainable manner.”
According to Director-General of Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Dorji Dhradhul, the move is aimed towards Bhutan’s “High Value, Low Impact” tourism policy. “This policy draft is under preparation for last four years,” said people associated to tourism in Bhutan.