As the pristine Shangri- la nation of Bhutan prepares to make also tourism a sustainable avenue within its confines, travel tales concerning this part of the world are touted to see some major changes. With the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2020 set to come into effect from July of the current year, we caught up with Dorji Dhradul, the Director General of the Tourism council of Bhutan to get greater clarity on what the bill professes for foreign tourists at large and essentially for Indian tourists in particular.
Here’s all the information we managed to get hold of-
Information on the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2020
This levy and other regulations apply only to the tourists from Bangladesh, India and Maldives. Therefore the existing rules such as that of the Department of Immigration and Ministry of Labor and Human Resources will apply to other categories of visitors from regional countries.
- Tourism is one of the most important industries in Bhutan. Since Bhutan opened to tourism in 1974, Bhutan followed a unique sustainable approach to tourism under the policy of “High value, Low volume”. All international tourists visiting Bhutan are required to pay a minimum daily package rate which currently is US$250.
- In keeping with this policy, the Third Session of the Third Parliament of Bhutan deliberated and endorsed the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2020 on 5 February 2020. The Regional tourists visiting the border towns such as Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup jongkhar within the first interior check post will not have to pay Sdf.
- The SDF of Ngultrum 1200 per day will be levied to regional tourists which is 25 percent of US$65 that international tourists visiting Bhutan currently pay. Children between 6-15 years will receive a 50 percent discount on the SDF charged to regional tourists. Children below 5 yrs are exempted from SDF.
- Over the recent years, the unprecedented growth in the number of tourist arrivals in Bhutan has put immense pressure on Bhutan’s limited infrastructure and the fragile ecosystem. At the same time, tourists experienced long delays at the ports of entry, poor services, deceptive practices by intermediaries and increased threats to their safety on roads in Bhutan from lack of proper regulations.
- The SDF would enable Bhutan to provide quality services to regional tourists at par with international tourists, seamless entry and exit, proper tourist infrastructure and uphold safety and security for all visitors. It would also prevent possible misunderstanding between locals and visitors which may arise from lack of proper regulations.
- Given the importance of the tourism industry to Bhutan and the longstanding policy of “High value, Low volume”, the priority for Bhutan is to ensure the sustainability of tourism on one hand while providing exclusive experience to visitors.
- In keeping with the longstanding special ties of friendship between Bhutan and India, Bhutan will continue to welcome visitors from India.
- The Royal Government of Bhutan is working closely with the Government of India to ensure that no inconveniences are caused to the visitors during the implementation of the SDF.
Just to further clarify For Those on work permits, official guests and, businesses the existing rules will continue to apply, meaning SDF levy will not apply, Dhradul added.
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