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Tuesday 29 August 2023

Getting greedy backfires on Bhutan tourism

The mountainous Asian kingdom of Bhutan has long been one of the most expensive places for travellers - with huge fees imposed on visitors to deter mass tourism.

But now Bhutan is having second thoughts on gouging travellers after its travel industry failed to bounce back as hoped post Covid.

Following the pandemic shutdown, the Bhutan tourist fee was increased to US$200 per night, up from US$65.

The kingdom has now revised what it calls the ‘Sustainable Development Fee’ down to US$100 as of September 1, the South China Morning Post reported.

“This is in view of the important role of the tourism sector in generating employment, and earning foreign,” a government statement said.

It comes in time for the peak tourist period when the country hosts many Buddhist festivals.

Prior to the pandemic, Bhutan welcomed over 300,000 visitors annually. The kingdom only began allowing visitors in 1974.

Bhutan hopes to raise the contribution of tourism to its economy by 20%. It currently is about 5%.

Dorji Dhradhul, director general of the Department of Tourism, said the halving of the fee could boost arrivals in the September-December period.

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