It’s currently pretty difficult to visit the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. The country has been mostly cut off for more than two years – even now, its land borders are still totally closed.
Bhutan is set to reopen again to all tourists on September 23, but when it does, it’ll still be pretty inaccessible. Why’s that, you ask? Well, the country will be hiking up its ‘sustainable development fee’ for tourists to a whopping $200 (£167) per person, per day.
The Bhutanese government first introduced the daily fee in 1991, but until this point it has remained at $65 (£54). The tripled fee will apparently go towards offsetting tourists’ carbon footprint and upskilling workers in Bhutan’s tourist sector. Needless to say, it’s also designed to ensure that Bhutan attracts fewer but wealthier visitors.
And while the $200 fee sounds expensive – and it absolutely is – the truth is that, for most travellers, Bhutan has long been a very spenny place to visit. Pre-pandemic, the country enforced something called a ‘minimum daily package’ rate, which meant that most tourists had to spend a minimum of $200 per day. While that’s now been scrapped, the new higher development fee ensures the Bhutan is as expensive to visit as ever.
On the brighter side, apparently there will be more variety to Bhutan travel packages once the country reopens. While visitors to the country previously had to make use of a select few tour operators, from September travellers will have more freedom to plan their own itineraries.
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