Bhutan Makes Travel Cheaper! Slashes Tourist Fees By 50% From September

by Mallika Khurana
Bhutan Makes Travel Cheaper! Slashes Tourist Fees By 50% From September

In a bid to stimulate its tourism industry and recover from the economic setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the enchanting realm of Bhutan has unveiled a transformative strategy. The Himalayan kingdom, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has decided to slash its tourist fees by half. This bold move is aimed at reigniting the flow of visitors and revitalising a sector that has been grappling with the lingering impact of pandemic-related restrictions.

Bhutan Cut The Tourist Fee In Half

Bhutan Tourism
Photo Credits: Canva

Previously charging tourists $200 (₹16,509) as a “Sustainable Development Fee” per visitor per night, Bhutan has decided to cut this fee in half. Starting in September, the new price will be $100 (₹8,254) and it will last for four years. As per the reports from Reuters, the Bhutanese government released a statement about this decision. The statement declared it as a move to encourage tourism’s role in job creation, foreign exchange earnings, and overall economic growth.

Bhutan, known for its stunning landscapes and unique culture, opened its doors to tourists in 1974, and visitor numbers have been on the rise ever since. In 2019, the country hosted 315,600 visitors, with an increase of 15.1% from the previous year. However, the nation has maintained a cautious stance on mass tourism to preserve its pristine environment and cultural heritage. The imposed tourist fee has naturally limited the number of visitors to those willing to pay.

Despite its cautious approach, Bhutan aims to boost the tourism sector’s contribution to its economy from about 5% to 20%. The lower fee will likely attract more visitors during the peak tourist season from September to December. This period also aligns with various religious and cultural events in this predominantly Buddhist nation.

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The Country Moves From Conservation To Recovery

Photo Credits: Canva

In recent times, the Bhutanese government has introduced measures to encourage tourism. However, the expected increase in tourist numbers has not been realised as planned. Notably, the majority of tourists visiting Bhutan this year have been Indians, enjoying a lower fee of ₹1,200 ($14.5) per day. Despite the challenges, the tourism sector remains a significant source of employment for around 50,000 Bhutanese citizens. It contributes approximately $84 million annually in foreign exchange earnings.

As Bhutan recalibrates its approach to tourism fees, the kingdom embarks on a journey to rejuvenate its tourism sector.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva