Bhutan has recently introduced a new system called ‘Sustainable Development Fee’ for regional tourists from Bangladesh, India, and the Maldives.
As per the new policy, regional tourists from these countries have to pay USD 16.85 (BTN 1200) per day for their stay in Bhutan as a sustainable development fee from July 2020.
This new law comes as a result of tourists disturbing the country’s ecology during their trips. Bhutan received a footfall of more than 2, 00,000 regional tourists from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives in 2018-19.
Bhutan government believes that it can become another tourist hub in the next few years that can harm its unique ecology. Earlier, regional tourists from India, Maldives, and Bangladesh were exempted from the ‘sustainable development fee’.
Notably, Bhutan charges USD 65 per day as a ‘sustainable development fee’ and USD 40 as a visa charge per day from every foreign visitor.
Sustainable Development Fee is another opportunity for the Bhutan government to earn good revenue. According to the data published in media reports, in 2018, Bhutan earned USD 26.29 million through Sustainable Development Fee. However, the total income from international tourists was USD 85.41 million.
The Bhutan government has taken this decision as per their ‘High Value, Low Impact’ tourism policy. The sustainable development fee will be a part of the ‘permit processing fee’ for regional and international tourists. In 2018 total of 202,290 tourists visited Bhutan while India and Bangladesh contributed 1,91,836 and 10,450 tourists respectively.