Bhutan for long has been a tranquil destination for Indian travelers. With its hypnotic beauty, spectacular landscapes and the fact that it is very near to India, Bhutan has been a favorite destination among Indian tourists. And more significantly, you had to pay nothing as fees to enter the country. But from July 2020 Bhutan per day cost for Indians becoming expensive.
Travelling to Bhutan becoming costlier for Indian tourists. As per the reports, the ‘The Land of Thunder Dragon’ proposed to extend the mandatory daily package of $250 (which is around INR 17800) to regional tourists, i.e., those from Bangladesh, India, and the Maldives. Earlier, the mandatory daily package was valid to only foreign tourists. This was the update of November 2019.
While the fee comprises a $65 for sustainable development fee, star accommodation, visa charges, meals, camping equipment, intra-Bhutan transport, and services of a guide. However, travel and tour operators are of the opinion that even after covering all those expenses, the cost of spending a day in Bhutan would still be higher than what most Indian tourists can pay for.
Director General of Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) Dorji Dhradhul stated that the said proposal was in line with his country’s high-value, low-impact tourism policy, but did not remark a specific time when the rules would be brought into effect. Further, few reliable sources associated with Bhutan Tourism said that this policy draft has been under preparation for four years.
But, on 3rd February 2020, a new law by the Bhutanese government is set to change that. Finishing the facility of free entry for Indian tourists into the country, Bhutan of late announced that it will charge a daily fee of Rs 1,200 per person from July 2020. Other countries comprised in the scheme are Maldives and Bangladesh.
As for children between the age of 6 and 12 years, a charge of Rs 600 needs to be paid. The charge, called a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), is a provision recently announced by the Bhutanese government to help control the heavy tourist traffic in the country.
The SDF for Indian passport holders is fairly less compared to citizens of other countries, who have to pay USD 65 (Rs 4,631) along with a obligatory flat cover charge of USD 250 (Rs 17,800) per day. The resolution to announce the fee was passed by the country’s National Assembly as the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan, 2020.
Previous, Indian nationals visiting Bhutan were only compulsory to carry any of the two valid travel documents, and did not have to pay an entry fee. The travel documents were an Indian passport with minimum 6 months validity and/or a voter ID card issued by the Election Commission of India or Aadhar card. Indian citizens did not require a visa to visit Bhutan but they require to issue an ILP (Inner Line Permit).
Indians travelling to Bhutan by road were only compulsory to obtain an entry permit on the basis of valid travel documents from the Immigration Office of Royal Government of Bhutan at Phuentsholing.
Indians travelling by air were only mandatory to carry their travel documents and entry permit and show them at the Paro International Airport. The entry permit permitted Indian tourists to visit Thimphu and Paro only.
Bhutan’s tourism mantra is ‘high value, low impact’ and its intention is simple: to maximize the financial aids of tourism, while minimizing its environmental and cultural impression. It is by now the world’s only carbon free country, and therefore the kingdom is about to become the primary fully organic nation by 2020, so it’s only getting to get more attractive.
The fee will be charged from July 2020.
The decision comes in light of the increasing number of ‘regional tourists’ to the region and its effect on Bhutan’s ecology. SDF goes straight to the Bhutan government and the government funds as direct revenue. The fee is meant to help the government tackle the sharp growth in the number of tourists in terms of traffic control. It also pays towards the government’s initiatives regarding social welfare of Bhutanese citizens, according to the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
According to the Tourism Council of Bhutan’s Annual Report, India is that the main source of tourists to the country. India’s share in visitors to Bhutan is more than 69 per cent with more than 19 lakh tourists go to the country.
Tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives are characterized as regional tourists due to different entry requirements and are exempted from the fee. SDF contributed more than $20 million to Bhutanese government’s direct income from tourism.
But now, if you are planning to enjoy Bhutan, you will have to pay more than you had to earlier. So, get ready to pay this extra amount if you are planning to travel Bhutan after July 2020.