Recently Bhutan tourism authorities announced that they are going to lift the travel ban and will be reopening Bhutan borders to tourists from all around the world. This news is a matter of happiness to anyone who is willing to visit the tiny Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge.
But before you get into that happiness of traveling to Bhutan, let me tell you that there are some new rules & regulations for foreign travelers that you should need to know. I fear that these new rules of the Bhutan Tourism Department may turn your happiness into sadness.
Bhutan Will Reopen Borders In September 2022
The Kingdom of Bhutan has been under a travel ban for almost 2 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the country will reopen its borders to tourists on 23rd September 2022. The Foreign Minister of Bhutan and Chairperson of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, Dr. Tandi Dorji said –
“COVID-19 has allowed us to reset – to rethink how the sector can be best structured and operated so that it not only benefits Bhutan economically but socially as well while keeping carbon footprints low. In the long run, our goal is to create high-value experiences for visitors, and well-paying and professional jobs for our citizens.”
He also added,” The tourism sector will be undergoing a revamp, which will focus on three key areas. They are infrastructure and services, the travel experiences of tourists, and the sector’s environmental impact.”
Triple Tourist Tax Will Be Charged From Foreign Tourists
This is the bad news I was talking about. Bhutan Tourism Department is all geared up to charge a hefty tax to enter and explore the Kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan has increased its Sustainable Development Fee for international tourists from previous $65 (nearly INR 5180) per night per person to $200 (nearly INR 15,985) per person per day.
So, the question is why the Sustainable Development Fee is being raised?
Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world and with climate change, it is imperative that Bhutan continues to conserve its environment. Bhutan tourism authorities believe the current SDF (Sustainable Development Fee) will put Bhutan in good stead to mitigate climate change and maintain carbon-neutral tourism.
The SDF will be channeled towards activities that offset carbon footprint and maintain the carbon sinks in Bhutan through the replanting of trees. It will also be used to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels by, for instance, enhancing its hydropower capacity and electrifying its transport sector.
It will also be used to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels by, for instance, enhancing its hydropower capacity and electrifying its transport sector. Beyond protecting the country’s natural environment, the SDF will be directed towards activities that preserve Bhutan’s built and living cultural heritage, including architecture and traditional values.
The SDF will also ensure viable, long-term economic operations, which provide socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders. This includes the development of tourism activities that help local communities thrive economically and the creation of stable employment with fair wages and working conditions.
However, tourists from India will at present pay a previously stipulated fee, which will be revised at a later date. Here is an official Press Release from the Bhutan Tourism Council.