Bhutan halves per day tourist fee to attract global visitors

Bhutan halves per day tourist fee to attract global visitors

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

In an effort to lure international tourists, the picturesque Kingdom of Bhutan has chosen to decrease its daily tourist fee from $200 (INR 16,509) to $100 (INR 8,254). This strategic move aims to reinvigorate the tourism sector, which has been grappling with a slow recovery even a year after the conclusion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in September 2022, shortly following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Bhutan had raised its “Sustainable Development Fee” from $65 to $200 per night. The rationale behind this increase was to offset the carbon emissions generated by visitors. However, this higher fee had the unintended consequence of restricting the number of tourists coming to the country. Now, Bhutan is once again banking on a reduction in prices to attract more visitors. The new tariff will take effect in September and remain in place for four years, as announced by the government.

In an official statement, the government explained, “This decision is driven by the recognition of the tourism sector’s crucial role in creating jobs, earning foreign exchange, and stimulating overall economic growth.”

For those unfamiliar with Bhutan’s history, the nation remained secluded for many generations until 1974 when it opened its doors to tourists, receiving a mere 300 visitors. However, by 2019, official data indicated that this number had soared to 315,600.

Bhutan, the breathtaking Himalayan destination adorned with numerous monasteries, has consistently captivated travelers from around the globe. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic took a substantial toll on its tourism sector, compounded by the subsequent increase in the tourist fee, which deterred both tourists and big spenders.

Dorji Dhradhul, the Director-General of the Department of Tourism, highlighted that the reduction in the fee could lead to an upsurge in arrivals during the peak tourist season from September to December. He also noted that more than 56,000 tourists had visited Bhutan since January, with approximately 42,000 of them being Indian nationals who only had to pay a fee of INR 1,200 ($14.5) per day.

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