Bhutan Tourist Tax Has Tripled to US$200 per Night

Bhutan Reopens With US$200 Tourism Tax to Promote Sustainable Travel

Could this be the key to preventing the dangers of overtourism?

On 23 Sep 2022, the Kingdom of Bhutan reopened for tourism after over two years of being closed off to outsiders due to the pandemic. This landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas has long been regarded as one of the most exclusive places you can explore, especially with its “high value, low volume” tourism policy. And this time, it’s taking things up a notch to keep its reputation as a high-end, sustainable destination. 

Its resumption of tourism and quarantine-free entry to fully vaccinated travellers comes with a steep hike in the Bhutan tourist tax. And by “steep,” we’re talking triple the pre-pandemic amount; clearly, something to consider if you’re looking to visit this idyllic country soon. 

Also read: Travel Better: 15 Best Ways to Help Locals While Travelling

Latest updates on Bhutan’s tourist tax

bhutan tourist tax

Image credit: Daniel Grandfield

International visitors now have to pay Bhutan’s Sustainable Development Fee of US$200 (~S$289) per night in order to enter. Before, the tax was only US$65 a night and was part of a system that required a minimum daily spend of US$250. This previous amount included accommodations, food, transportation, tour guides, and other related expenses.

This time, the Bhutan tourist tax is on top of other travel-related costs — significantly increasing the price of a visit. However, foreign tourists no longer need to book with an accredited tour operator — allowing for more freedom over the itinerary. Apart from that, Bhutan is issuing 90-day visas, with travellers having the option to apply online. 

Image credit: Aaron Santelices

“We are targeting mindful travellers who are sensitive to Bhutan’s culture, environment and aspirations,” said Dorji Dradhul, director general of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, in a TV interview. He also cited that their existing “high value, low volume” tourism policy needed a revamp, hence the now-higher tourism fee. 

The government of Bhutan aims to use the proceeds of this increased tax to further promote sustainable travel. This includes offsetting its carbon footprint, enhancing the skills of tourism workers, improving infrastructure, and combatting the effects of climate change.

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The country’s Tourism Council projects an approximate 15,000 arrivals in 2022 and 22,000 for the following year. In 2019, there have been over 300,000 foreign visitors in Bhutan, which raised concerns over mass tourism. With this new Bhutan tourist tax, it may eventually serve as an example of preventing overtourism

Featured image credit: Nitish Waila via Canva Pro

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Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.