Bhutan introduces ‘Sustainable Development Fee’ for regional tourists


Sustainable Development Fee in News: Bhutan has recently introduced a new system for regional tourists called ‘Sustainable Development Fee’. The lower house of ‘Tshogdu’ or Bhutan’s Parliament passed legislation that tourists from India, Maldives, and Bangladesh have to pay a certain amount for their stay in the country.

As per the new policy, regional tourists have to pay 1200 Bhutanese Ngultrum (USD 16.85) as a sustainable development fee per day from July 2020. According to the reports, tourists have to pay this fee because tourists disturb Bhutan’s ecology during their trip.  

Bhutan’s Sustainable Development Fee

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.

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Earlier, regional tourists from India, Maldives, and Bangladesh were exempted from the ‘sustainable development fee’. It is important to know that 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.

A sustainable development fee is a payment for the maintenance of ecology in the country. As per the Bhutan government, tourists generally damage ecology that affects the country’s environment. A certain amount is required to maintain a unique ecology of Bhutan therefore Sustainable Development Fee is has been introduced.

Regional tourism in Bhutan

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.

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