If you’re planning a trip to Bhutan, then you should know that from now onwards, your entry into Bhutan will not be free of cost. Like you pay a fee to travel to other countries of the world in the same way, you will have to pay a nominal amount while traveling to Bhutan. The nominal amount is not more than $17 or 1200 INR/day. Not only the Indian tourists have to pay, but it is applicable for tourists from Bangladesh and Maldives. The tourists of these 3 nations have been regarded as the “regional tourists.”
Some Facts About Sustainable Developments Fee (SDF)
According to reports, the $17 fee that the regional tourists have to pay is a part of the sustainable development fee or the SDF. The Bhutan tourism believes that this fee is nominal to what’s charged from the other countries. Well, this fact is true enough as the SDF is $65 in the case of other foreign tourists. Moreover, they also have to pay a coverage charge of around $250.
So, compare to this charge, the Indian and other regional tourists have to pay a comparatively low cost. Moreover, the children below the age of 5 don’t require any fee, and the children between 6 and 12 years have to pay just 600 INR to travel to Bhutan.
Is There Any Exemption?
Well, yes, there will be an exemption in your SDF if you plan to travel to the eastern regions of Bhutan, which is also not that developed. Hence, nor visited a lot by the tourists, who are attracted to visit the western part of this place. According to Bhutan tourism and the government, if the tourists visit at least 11 areas, out of 20, in the eastern region of Bhutan, then they will get an exemption in the SDF. It includes those places falling under the district of Trongsa and Trashigang.
The Bhutan Tourism Council Director Dorji Dhradul believes that this particular levy, which will come in action from July 2020, will improve the tourism industry in Bhutan to a great extent. However, the regional, especially the Indian tour operators from West Bengal, is not happy with this policy. According to them, during October, which is also the “Puja Season,” their business will face a loss. As lots of tourists may cut short their plan of traveling to Bhutan.
What’s Giving Frown to the Indian government?
Two things are disturbing the Indian government, even though the negotiation between the Foreign Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry has taken place on this. The first obviously is the fact that no public advertisement has not come into effect after the bill has been passed in Bhutan. The Government of India feels that this may create confusion among both nations during July when the law will come into action.
The next issue is an important one. The Indian government believes, by leveraging this nominal fee, the Bhutan Government may want to state that Indian tourists are not that much welcomed in their nation. There are reasons behind having such thoughts. The Bhutanese newspapers have shed light on the fact that the Indian tourists are ignorant and, to some extent, not very respectful to their culture. Moreover, these newspapers have also mentioned the fact that Indian tourists are the reason for the littering taking place in the nation.
This is becoming more prominent by the fact that the Bhutan government is leveraging a visa charge to the regional tourists. It was previously given by the other foreign tourists, but not by the ‘regional tourists.’ So, if you are planning a trip to Bhutan, then you should keep this fact in mind and accordingly plan the journey to this country.
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