Indian tourists planning a tour in Bhutan may need to think twice before embarking on their journey as they will now have to shell out a lot more money for that. The Bhutanese parliament has passed a law that will impose sustainable development fee of Rs 1,200 per day on each adult Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian tourist from July this year. So far, Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian tourists, who are clubbed under the regional tourists category, were exempt from paying any tourism levy.
The decision is believed to have been taken after a huge spike was registered in the number of tourists from neighbouring countries in recent years. Around 2.74 lakh regional tourists visited the Himalayan country in the year 2018 among which 66 per cent consisted of Indian tourists, the Indian Express reported. Concerns had been raised in the country about the implications for its Himalayan ecology which may get damaged due to the huge influx of the tourists. However, 11 less-visited districts of the country will remain out of the ambit of the recently passed legislation and tourists will not be levied any fee in these districts.
Before the recently-brought changes, all tourists barring Indian, Maldivian and Bangladeshi tourists had to pay a fee of $250 which included their accommodation, food and travel inside Bhutan. Indian tourists were exempt from this per day expenditure fee and had the luxury to plan low-budget trips to the Himalayan nation coupled with visa-free entry. Representations against the recently passed bill were also made by the owners of low-budget hotels, who stand to lose a large number of Indian tourists, but the government has gone ahead with its decision. For long considered as one of the backyard tourist destinations for Indians, post this levy, Bhutan will seem miles away for a lot of Indian tourists.