Bhutan Mulls Hike In Tourism Fee

Bhutan is considering an increase in the daily tourist fee it levies on international tourists. Visitors from India pay a reduced fee to visit the country

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Bhutan is likely to increase the daily fee once tourism numbers increase

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Bhutan may reconsider its controversial $100 daily tourism fees if the country’s tourism industry recovers soon, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay told CNBC in an interview. But contrary to popular belief, the fees are likely to go higher, he said.

Bhutan PM
Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan

Bhutan was maongst the last countires to open its doors to foreign tourists and when it did in September 2022, it levied an increased “Sustainable Development Fee” of $200 per person per day in place. Tourism numbers dropped and in less than a year, the fee was cut by half to encourage travellers to stay longer.

The Fee

Bhutan currently charges $100 for adults and $50 for children aged between 6 and 12 as a daily fee. This reduced fee is termed as a “time-limited incentive” and is at present valid until Aug. 31, 2027, according to Bhutan’s Department of Immigration.

Tourists from India pay a reduced fee of 1,200 Bhutanese ngultrum ($14.50) per night. Day visitors from India don;t pay any fee, according to Bhutan’s Department of Immigration.


But the Prime Minister indicated that the fee amount could change before that date. “We’re going to have a quota of 300,000 tourists,” Tobgay said. “And if the demand to come into Bhutan to visit far outstrips our capacity to welcome them we might even have to increase sustainable fees at that time.”

Bhutan realises that its tourism industry is recovering slower than other countries in Asia but Tobgay expects that this will  quickly change.  “The moment we start marketing our country and what is available … I think there will be a beeline to visit Bhutan,” he said.

The Numbers

Bhutan welcomed 315,599 international visitors in 2019, 73% of whom were from India, according to an annual report published by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Last year, the country welcomed around 130,000 tourists.


The country is targeting 300,000 tourist arrivals per year, half of which would be from “third countries” and “dollar-paying visitors,” according to a manifesto from Tobgay’s People’s Democratic Party.

The Fee Legacy

Bhutan closed its borders in March 2020 due to the pandemic. prior to that, travelers paid a daily package rate that started at $200 per day. The rate often included hotel, transportation and tour guide costs, and the mandatory $65 Sustainable Development Fee. However, these costs are now in addition to the $100 Sustainable Development Fee.


Tobgay acknowledged that the changes to Bhutan’s Sustainable Development Fees have caused “a lot of confusion.” Still, he said he’s confident the current rate of $100 will allow the country to meet its recovery goals very quickly.  

“Truth be told, I think $200 per day as a sustainable development fee many tourists are willing to pay,” he said, especially “when guests find out the proceeds from the Sustainable Development Fee are used to protect our natural environment, to provide free education and free health care to our citizens.”


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