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Bhutan to re-open to tourists...and they'll be charged $200 a day

The battle against over-tourism has entered a new era.

After being closed to tourism for 2.5 years, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is set to re-open to tourists on Friday, but with a small catch: you will now be charged a $200 fee for every day that you spend visiting the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

In pre-pandemic times, Bhutan had been charging almost all tourists $250 per day, but technically just $65 per day of that was the actual tourism fee; the rest of what you paid was applied against your lodging, food, transportation, and other direct costs, cushioning the impact of the high fee, and making travel to the country somewhat expensive, but not prohibitive.

Not anymore: the new $200 fee is now levied exclusively to control tourism and make it more sustainable; none of that fee can now be applied to your actual travel costs. Now you will have to pay out-of-pocket for all your food, lodging, guides and whatever else you need; the $200-per-day fee is just for permission to be there. Nationals of neighboring India do get a break, though: the fee for them is now just $16 per day (previously, Indian nationals had been exempt from the pre-pandemic $250-per-day fee).

Lots more here: Nikkei Asia: Bhutan reopens with $200 tourist tax in test for sustainable travel


Posted by
550 posts

Well, well, how elitist of them. Good thing Bhutan is already stricken from my list. And, maybe this is not true, but I would hate to implement a trip/trek and then find it was true. What? As an aside to a trek I had investigated, there was a caveat about endless barking dogs in Bhutan. That one should know this beforehand. Now, what trek company would put such a thing in their info if it were not true. So maybe lots of mountain scenery to take your breath away, but plenty of aggravation to the ears and mind if have to deal with dogs.
I can see the whys of the $200 a day. But, not for me. I must be the person they are trying to discourage.

Posted by
2629 posts

We all say that we support sustainable tourism, so why would anyone take issue with an attempt by a particularly fragile destination, and a sovereign country at that, to define and quantify what "sustainable" means to them?
I suspect this will start to become the norm as other heavily impacted travel destinations around the world start to do much the same thing in order to help take the load off local taxpayers in maintaining their infrastructure. If it has the secondary consequence of culling the herd I wouldn't necessarily argue that's a bad thing - many overrun places can use a little culling (IMHO).

Posted by
3466 posts

More places, especially fragile ecosystems, should charge a high per day fee to tourists.

Posted by
1048 posts

Maybe that’s what the city of Venice should have done a long time ago.

Posted by
34 posts

Bhutan has no more barking dogs than anywhere else. The travel infrastructure is quite good, if somewhat basic and there are not large tour groups. Combined with a trip to northern India and Sikkim (also part of India), you have an interesting destination. In particular the Fall festival in Thimphu and hike to the Tiger's Nest monastery were highlights. We were there in October of 2019 on a small (15 people) group tour.