You can visit Bhutan again — if you’re willing to cough up $200 a day in fees

The Kingdom of Bhutan will reopen to tourists on Friday, with a substantial increase in its daily tourist tax.

Before the country closed its borders in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, travelers to Bhutan were required to pay a minimum daily package rate of $200-$250 — depending on the time of year. The rate included accommodation, food, and transportation costs, as well as a $65 Sustainable Development Fee.

Bhutan passed a Tourism Levy Bill in June that removed the minimum daily package price and instead raised the Sustainable Development Fee by $65 to $200 per individual per day.

Travel costs — for hotels and food, for example — are not covered by the fee.

Raju Rai (CEO of) said that the country provides a fee discount to families. Heavenly Bhutan Travels.

“It’s 50% for children 6-12 years old [old]He said that children aged 5 and under are eligible for free insurance.

“An active participation”

According to supporters of the new policy, Bhutan and its supporters, the move is in line the country’s ongoing goal to attract high-value, low-volume tourism.

To experience the country — which is famous for providing travelers a rare glimpse of authenticity in a world replete with tourist traps — visitors must “make an active contribution to Bhutan’s economic, social and cultural development,” according to the corporate websiteTourism Council of Bhutan

According to the Tourism Council, the fees will be used to upgrade infrastructure, train workers in the tourism industry, preserve cultural traditions, protect the environment, and create jobs that pay fair wages and work conditions.

Bhutan is the only country with zero carbon emissions in the world, according to its marketing materials.

Andrew Stranovsky Photography | Moment | Getty Images

Sam Blyth is chair of The Bhutan Canada Foundation. He is also the founder of The Bhutan Canada Foundation. Trans Bhutan TrailAccording to him, the fees will directly benefit local communities.

“The money collected by [the]He said that government will be directed back into communities to support education and health.

Travelers will benefit

According to the Tourism Council, the fees will also be beneficial for travelers. It stated that standards and certifications for tour operators and hotels will be updated to improve travelers’ experiences. Plus, travelers will have more flexibility in planning and booking their own tripsIt said:

The Tourism Council noted that the minimum daily package rate had its limitations. For example, tourists often had to choose from the packaged tours offered by tour companies, which controlled their travel experience. You can get rid of [it] … tourists will be able to engage their desired service providers directly, and pay for their services accordingly.”

The Council states that tour guides are no longer required for all trips. However they are required for travelers who plan for trekking beyond Thimphu or Paro.

According to Sarah-Leigh Shenton (marketing director at the agency), travel agencies can obtain visas for travelers. They also collect sustainability fees. Red Savannah. “All administration is handled and our clients don’t have to make local payments.

Critics versus supporters

Critics argue that Bhutan’s higher tourist tax is “a mistake.”elitist“, further closing the door for budget travelers who wish to visit Bhutan.  

More people believe that the new policy will have a significant impact on travel agencies that cater specifically to budget-friendly travellers.

Others are critical of the timing and state that the new rules will be discourage travelers from visitingAt a time when the country’s tourism industry is reeling after a 2.5-year border closing.

The Tourism Council of Bhutan however stated that the pandemic was the right moment “to reset” the sector. It suggested that it might welcome a slow return to tourists, saying, “The gradual return to tourism will allow for the progressive upgrade of infrastructure and services.”

Sam Blyth claimed that he has hiked extensively in Bhutan over the past thirty years. He is the founder of Trans Bhutan Trail. This non-profit company helped to revitalize the 250-mile ancient trail that runs through the center of Bhutan.

Sam Blyth, Trans Bhutan Trail, visiting Bhutan, trekking Bhutan

Wendy Min, Trip.com’s head for government affairs in Australia and New Zealand, stated that a large fee is necessary to “filter out travelers and keep things manageable.”

She said that Punakha or any of these cities would not be the next Kathmandu, as it is difficult for a small country to open fully. “I understand why people would be offended by the price tag. However, everyone is unique and is looking for their own experiences and memories.

She called the increased fees “the new normal”, citing Venice, Italy, where day-trippers will have to pay between 3-10 Euros ($3 and $5) to enter from January 2023.

For now, the increased fees will not apply to Indian tourists. They accounted for around 73%, prior to the pandemic, of all Bhutanese tourists. according to a report published by Bhutan in 2019.

This could change. The Tourism Council of Bhutan stated that the $15 daily fee Indian travelers pay for their travels will remain in place for two years. However, they noted that it “will be modified at a future time.”

Blyth, who first visited Bhutan in 1988, stated that he doesn’t think the new fee will negatively impact interest in Bhutan once tourists understand it.

He stated that Bhutanese tourists no longer need to book through travel agents or tour operators. They can instead deal directly with providers like hotels, restaurants and guides. “These services are inexpensive and … result in an overall cost, even with the new tourism fee, that is still reasonable.”

Source: CNBC

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