Country urged to reconsider $200pp daily tourist tax

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Country urged to reconsider $200pp daily tourist tax

Bhutan has confirmed it will triple its tourism tax to $200 (£166) per person per day when it reopens to travellers on 23 September.

The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) replaces a $65pp daily tax, which was in place before Bhutan closed its borders two-and-a-half years ago due to COVID.

In a statement, Bhutan’s tourism council Chairman said the pandemic had ‘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’.

He said the SDF will be used for activities that offset carbon footprint, as well as replanting of trees. “It will also be used to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels by, for instance, enhancing its hydropower capacity and electrifying its transport sector,” he added.

However, the UK boss of adventure travel company World Expeditions warned it could discourage trekkers planning to make long trips to Bhutan and encourage instead ‘whistle-stop tours’.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Gordon Steer said: “One of our most challenging but popular treks is the 27-day Bhutan Snowman Trek, it ranks amongst the very finest anywhere in the Himalayas but, if the price rise goes ahead, clients will be paying almost £9,000, rather than the current cost of £5,890. 

“Increasing the price of a trek by 50%  will have a huge impact on the future of Bhutan’s tourism industry and, after two years of COVID, would leave us very worried about the potential impact for the livelihoods of our colleagues within Bhutan.”

He said he has asked the Bhutanese to consider a scaled increase in the tax for those spending longer than a week in the country.

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