In a bid to curb over tourism, Bhutan might soon levy fee on tourists from India, the Maldives and Bangladesh, reports Conde Nast Traveller.
Bhutan already imposes a $250 (₹17, 000) on international tourists. However, the Fourth Bhutan Pay Commission report has recommended levying a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF). This fee of 500 Ngultrums (₹500) will be imposed on ‘regional tourists’. This includes individuals from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, who did not pay a fee previously.
Apart from the fee, the government will also introduce a cap on the number of tourists and foreign vehicles entering the country. Low-budget hotels will also be standardised.
Tourists in Bhutan have tripled in the last few years
This new move comes in light of the number of tourists visiting Bhutan exponentially increasing in the last three years. In 2017, one lakh seventy thousand tourists visited Bhutan. The number increased to over two lakhs in 2018, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor.
Reports have suggested that the country has been greatly affected by over tourism. Areas have become overcrowded and noisy. Several tourists complain about the lack of accommodation in hotels because they are occupied by tourists who have entered for free.
Tourist fee to also help the government financially
SDF will not just help curb a large number of tourists entering Bhutan. It will also help the government gain 425 million Nu (₹4.25 crore) in tourism annually. Bhutan is not the first country to impose a tourist tax. Around 42 countries across the world have taken similar measures to deal with over tourism. These countries include Venice, New Zealand and Japan.
Situated on the eastern edge of the Himalaya’s Bhutan is a popular tourist destination. The country has a lot to offer to tourists. Some of the famous sights in the country include Paro Taktsang monastery, Punakha Dzong, Taschichho Dzong among others. Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan and is a bustling city filled with interesting things to do and see.