Today Bhutan has opened for tourists. Traveling to the Himalayas has become many times more expensive

Bhutan opened for tourists today. Traveling to the Himalayas has become many times more expensive

Bhutan radically revamps its tourism model — Instead of a daily fee of $200-$250 for an all-inclusive package tourists will now be charged a daily sustainability fee in the amount of 200 US dollars. But additional costs for food, accommodation, transportation and everything else that was previously included in the package will be paid separately.

So, from September 23, 2022, the sustainability fee will increase from $65 to day to 200. This will certainly increase the country's tourism revenue.

The government has already confirmed that the increased levy will be used to offset the carbon footprint of tourism, improve carbon-neutral infrastructure, improve the skills of Bhutan's tourism workers, and rebuild Bhutan from the pandemic.

However, the daily fee of $200 — this is just the beginning of the costs. You will need to pay additional expenses for accommodation, meals, transportation, sightseeing and guide services. Whereas previously the Bhutanese tourism model was expensive and low-cost, the new model takes this idea and reinforces it — in the future, Bhutan will focus on budget travelers who are happy to spend money on traveling without crowds of other tourists in eco-friendly places.

Before the pandemic, tourists were paying $250 per person daily to stay in — this was quite enough to weed out most of those who wanted to go to the Himalayas. On top of that, there was a $30-$40 daily surcharge for solo travelers and couples. All this has made Bhutan one of the most expensive destinations on the planet.

During the low seasons — from December to February and from June to August — rates dropped to $200 a day. But at this time it is either too cold or too cloudy.

Bhutanese have achieved a high standard of living by regional standards. Compared to neighboring Nepal, Bhutan spends nearly 40% more on education, with half the unemployment rate and half the number of people living below the poverty line. It is impressive that almost 100% of the population has access to electricity and clean water.

Under the old tourism model, tourists from neighboring India, Bangladesh and the Maldives were exempted from both sustainability fees and the need to participate in an organized tour. This generous policy and common land border contributed to Indian travelers making up 73% of Bhutan's visitors.

However, already during the pandemic, a new daily fee equivalent to US$16 was introduced for travelers from previously liberated countries. The government has indicated that this figure will increase in the near future and will significantly change the travel dynamics of travelers from South Asia.

We have to admit that tourism fees — this is the future of travel: Thailand introduced a $9 tourist tax in 2022, Venice is ready to charge a €10 entry fee from 2023, and a host of tourist taxes and surcharges are already in place across the EU. Bhutan is following the same path.

Well, a little positive. With sustainability contributions funding new — from increasing hydropower to electrifying public transport, that famously clean mountain air could be even cleaner and more pungent with the scent of glacial meltwater and blue pines. TURIZM.RU

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