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Bhutan reopens border for visitors with significant sustainable development fee

Bhutan has recently announced the opening of its borders for visitors after a gap of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Himalayan nation will open its borders for

Bhutan has recently announced the opening of its borders for visitors after a gap of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Himalayan nation will open its borders for tourists from other countries from September 23,2022, but there will be a sustainable development fee (SDF) of $200 (Rs 16,000) per person per day.

However, the SDF will only be $15 (Rs 1,200) per day for Indian citizens.

These costs are in addition to travel, lodging, and other costs.

It may be mentioned that there was no levy on Indians visiting Bhutan till now.

To enter the country, they only required a proof of identity, not necessarily a passport.

A few countries are trying to capitalise on the overtourism that has resulted from the pandemic in the guise of new tourist initiatives and taxes. Bhutan is one of the them.

Bhutan’s levy is said to be the highest globally, despite the fact that other popular tourist destinations are also considering placing a daily tax on their post-pandemic visitors.

According to the Tourism Council of Bhutan, “the new approach is intended to elevate the travel experience in Bhutan and the sector through fair and healthy competition.”

However, the Indian tourism sector read it differently. “Bhutan is politely saying ‘Indians are not welcome’.

Only time will tell if the 1,200 SDF will be applied to Indians or revoked.

The tourism industry in India and within Bhutan will be on a knife-edge till that time.

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First Published: 27th July, 2022 17:03 IST

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