In an effort to increase visitor numbers, which are still only a small portion of what they were before to the COVID-19 outbreak, Bhutan reduces the daily tourist tax it charges visitors who stay for more than four days.
The picturesque Himalayan monarchy hiked its “Sustainable Development Fee” from the $65 it had been charging for over three decades to $200 per guest per night when it reopened its gates to travelers in September of last year after more than two years of epidemic closure.
According to authorities, the SDF is intended to deter environmentally destructive budget vacationers in order to draw in rich tourists. The money is used to preserve the pristine environment and offset tourist carbon emissions.
In order to protect the sacredness of its peaks, Bhutan forbids mountain climbing and only receives a small portion of the visitors who travel to neighboring Nepal.
Tourists who pay the daily rate for four days will be able to remain an additional four days starting this month through the end of 2024. SDF for 12 days entitles visitors to a full month’s stay.
“If more tourists stay longer in Bhutan, tourism can help our economy to grow faster.”Dorji Dhradhul, director general of the Department of Tourism
Only travelers who pay in dollars are eligible for the incentive; visitors from India’s neighboring country who pay in rupees are not.
According to Dhradhul, Bhutan wants to progressively increase the tourist sector’s share of its $3 billion economy from the current 5% to 20%. He made no time estimate.
More than 47,000 tourists have visited Bhutan since January, according to Dhradhul, and the nation is on track to meet its “modest” aim of hosting 86,000 tourists by the end of the year, down from approximately 315,600 in 2019, before to the pandemic.