Travel trade operators in eastern India are apprehending strong impact on their business following change in the tourism entry fee policy of Himalayan country Bhutan.
Currently, Bhutan charges every foreign visitor $250 per day including $65 ‘Sustainable Development Fee (SDF)’ and $40 visa charge. But ‘Regional Tourists’ from India, Bangladesh and Maldives need not pay SDF or visa fee.
Bhutan is going to introduce SDF and a ‘permit processing fee’ for the regional tourists too. A drafty policy has already been prepared on this and waiting for cabinet approval by the end of December. As per Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) official statistics, out of 274,097 visitor arrivals in 2018, regional arrival figure was 202,290. In this, India and Bangladesh contribution was 1,91,836 and 10,450.
In 2018, Bhutan’s total tourism receipt from the international leisure tourists was USD 85.41 million out of which USD 26.29 million was direct revenue for the government through SDF, visa fees and 2% TDS. Following introduction of new fee, even the reduced regional visitor’s count can generate huge revenue for Bhutan Government. In addition, this can highly optimize limited tourist holding capacity of this tiny country.
source: The Economic Times