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Traveling to Bhutan Will Not Be Easy For Indians, Have to Pay Sustainable Development Fee

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There are millions of tourists from all over the world in Bhutan. Most of these people are Indians. There is an open border between India and Bhutan and till now there was no entry fee charged between the two countries but now Bhutan has changed its rules. Ending decades of free entry to Indian tourists visiting Bhutan, the government in Thimphu has decided to levy a daily ₹1,200 ($17) fee for “regional tourists” from India, the Maldives and Bangladesh, beginning July 2020.

Traveling to Bhutan will not be easy for not only India but also for many other neighboring countries. Tourists from Bangladesh and Maldives will also have to pay this fee. It has been named Sustainable Development Fee. The Parliament of Bhutan on 4 February approved the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan, 2020 bill to levy this fee. According to this bill, a fee of Rs 1200 per day has been fixed for a person above 18 years of age, Rs 600 per day for children between six and 12 years.

The government of Bhutan says that it has been decided to charge a fee to control the tourist burden on the country. However, this fee is different for other countries. The SDF is considerably lower than the $65 charged to other foreign tourists, who are also charged a compulsory flat “cover charge” of $250 per day. According to the data for the year 2018, there were 274,097 tourists in Bhutan. There was an increase of 7.61 percent in comparison to the year 2017. The total number of tourists coming from India was highest among total tourists. 191,896 tourists from India had visited Bhutan.