After two and a half years of border closures, one of the most exclusive tourist destinations reopens this month. On Friday, Bhutan reopened its doors to tourists yet again but with certain financial requirements.
The Himalayan kingdom located between China and India has ramped up the pre-existing requirements. The country had already earned its ‘exclusive’ title by requiring visitors to spend at least $250 a day, now it has risen to an additional $200. The prior total amount would go towards accommodation, food, transport, and the government’s “sustainable development fee.” Currently, the additional $200 daily fee includes none of the above, visitors will still have to pay for travel costs.
There have been a host of changes that travelers can expect. Packaged tours are no longer a prerequisite, as they once were. The $200 daily tax is payable separately to lodging and meals. Officials say the new model will help rebrand the tiny Buddhist kingdom as an “exclusive destination” attracting “discerning tourists.”
According to TIME, those who can afford it will see their daily $200 put to good use. The new funds will go towards ‘tree planting, training programs and developing and maintaining trails. It builds on the work the government of Bhutan undertook during the pandemic when it began upgrading roads, tidying up monuments, and even improving public restrooms around the country.’
What we know
In March 2020, Bhutan shut its borders to visitors after detecting its first case of COVID-19. The reopening has invited new ways of addressing tourism in the country that has attracted many for years. The country has welcomed tourists from around the world; Bhutan is famous for measuring gross national happiness.
“The Government of Bhutan has re-strategized its ‘High Value, Low Volume’ tourism policy to ensure the sustainable use of tourism resources and to create an enabling environment for a vibrant, non-discriminatory, inclusive, and high-value tourism industry in Bhutan,” said Jigme Thinley Namgyal, Bhutan’s Consul General to NDTV.