High on my travel bucket list is a visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan. The country has now reopened, but a new fee assures that all but the most wealthy will be deterred from visiting.
Bhutan Reopens With A New Daily Fee
After a prolonged border closure due to the pandemic, Bhutan is open again, now welcoming international tourists with a new twist on its sustainability fee.
Prior to the pandemic, it cost you $250 per day to visit Bhutan, but that $250 went toward the cost of your food, lodging, and transport. The new fee is $200 per person per day…but it’s simply a daily fee that will be collected and not applied toward the cost of your trip.
Bhutan fully intends to deter visitors with its high cost, full stop.
Dorji Dhradhul, the Director-General of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, told TIME:
“Tourism, as an industry, was becoming less professional and was becoming low-hanging fruit. Locals saw it as a very easy way to make money. We were basically, as a sector, racing towards the bottom instead of aspiring to go higher up.”
As a plus, the new fee ushers in a new policy: guided tours are no longer required. As much as I appreciate having a knowledgeable guide, I look forward to exploring Bhutan on my own.
Furthermore, the fee will underwrite improving infrastructure and planting trees. That’s not a bad approach to balancing tourism with a desire to protect the beauty that attracts tourists in the first place.
Bhutan hopes the new fee will ensure it remains an “exclusive destination” attracting “discerning tourists.”
I think we’ve all seen that money does not necessarily translate to class, but the high daily fee will certainly make Bhutan a more exclusive destination.
Bhutan reopens – will you be traveling there?