What the Sustainable Development Fee will mean for Travellers.

“ …when Bhutan opened its doors to foreign tourists in the 1970’s, our leadership resisted the temptations to harness the quick fortunes from mass tourism and instead was prescient to formulate a visionary policy of High Value- Low Volume tourism.  The wisdom of our tourism policy has led to the emergence of a strong Brand Bhutan- an exclusive destination.”

Bhutan has a population of 750,000 people. .  In 2018, Bhutan received 274,000 visitors to the country. 

Unfortunately, over time, the success of the industry began to be determined by the number of arrivals and economic growth rather than the Kingdoms ecological balance.  This has sparked worries of the pitfalls of mass tourism.

As of July 2020 travel to Bhutan for passport holders of India, Maldives and Bangladesh will no longer be free.  In 2018, 66% of visitors to Bhutan were from the region.   A sustainable development fee (Royalty) of Nu. 1200/- (usd 17) will now be charged per person per day.  This is only 25% of what other country passport holders are charged at USD 65 per day.

Until December 31, 2024, 15 Dzongkhags out of 20 will be exempt of the levy.  This means that the only Dzongkhags the levy applies to are Thimphu, Paro, Wangdi, Punakha and Bumthang.  Children under the age of 5 years old will be exempt and children between the age of 6-12 will only be charged 50%.