New Delhi: The kingdom of Bhutan re-opened its borders for international tourists after over two and half years during the Covid-19 pandemic on Friday. The reopening has come with a revised tourism levy, called the Sustainable Development Fee. Bhutan raised its Sustainable Development Fee to $200 per visitor per night from the $65 it had been charging foreign tourists for the last three decades. This amount will go towards projects that support Bhutan’s economic, social, environmental and cultural development.
In previous years, the SDF was USD 65 per person (plus a USD 40 per person, per night fee for individual travellers). There will be a concessionary levy of 50% on the SDF for children between the ages of 6 to 12 years, and exemptions of the SDF for children aged 5 years and below.
Indians were not charged anything before the pandemic began, but rules specify that they now have to pay a sum of Rs 1200. However, the revised fee for Indian tourists was never implemented. “Tourism council did a review of policies to find out if we have to keep Bhutan as a high/low volume tourist destination. For Indian tourists Rs 1200 per day will be charged by the Bhutanese govt Sustainable Development Fee (SDF),” said Bhutan Ambassador Major General Vetsop Namgyel.
The fees raised will fund national investment in programmes that preserve Bhutan’s cultural traditions, as well as sustainability projects, infrastructure upgrades and opportunities for youth – as well as providing free healthcare and education for all. For instance, some of the Sustainable Development Fee funds go towards offsetting the carbon footprint of visitors by planting trees, upskilling workers in the tourism sector, cleaning and maintaining trails, reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and electrifying Bhutan’s transportation sector, among other projects.
About the Tourism Council of Bhutan
The Tourism Council of Bhutan is responsible for the development and promotion of sustainable tourism in Bhutan. It works to share the Kingdom’s remarkable places, people and experiences with conscious travellers, guided by the principles of high value, low volume tourism.