Bhutan has finally announced its reopening date, September 23, 2022, after being closed to foreigners for over two years owing to the pandemic. The beautiful Himalayan nation has attracted tourists from around the world for centuries. During the epidemic, the nation enforced strong COVID-19 entry restrictions, which prevented foreigners from entering the country.
However, travellers must now pay a substantial charge to enter the country and explore it. Bhutan has increased its Sustainable Development Fee for tourists to $200 (almost INR 15,985) per person per day, according a recent announcement.
Bhutan is sometimes referred to as the Last Shangri-La due to its pristine natural beauty and sustainable development. The government has traditionally adhered to a policy of High Value, Low Volume tourism.
Dr. Tandi Dorji, Bhutan’s foreign minister and chairman of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, stated, “Covid-19 has allowed us to reset, to rethink how the sector can be best structured and operated so that it not only benefits Bhutan economically but socially as well while keeping carbon footprints low.”
Since 1991, travellers were obliged to pay $65 (about INR 5196); however, the fee has been increased, and those who can afford it are welcome. The additional (tripled) fee will be used to offset the carbon footprint of tourists and improve the skills of tourism workers.
Tourism is a significant contributor to Bhutan’s economy, accounting for 6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. According to the Tourism Council of Bhutan, 315,599 tourists visited Bhutan in 2019, generating $225 million for the tourism industry.