In a major shift in policy, Bhutan plans to levy charges on tourists from regional countries, including India, Bangladesh and Maldives, who at present are exempted from any charges. This provision is contained in the new draft tourism policy, which is likely to be finalised by the Bhutanese Cabinet next month.

Reason for levying charges

According to the draft prepared by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), the new charges have been necessitated by the sharp increase in tourists from the region, mainly India, who cross over the land boundaries.

What will be the charges?

In 2018, of the 2,74,000 tourists visiting Bhutan, the council estimated that about 2,00,000 were from the region, of which about 1,80,000 were from India. In contrast to other international tourists, who pay $250 (Approx. INR. 18,000) as a minimum charge per day per person, which includes a $65 a day “Sustainable Development Fee”, as well as a $40 visa charge, tourists from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives had so far paid no fees, and were able to cross over without visas. According to the new policy, however, they would be charged a Sustainable Development Fee, as well as a “permit processing fee.”

Source: The Hindu

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; IOBR