Generally when ever our guests arrive in Bhutan. This is one of the first questions that I am asked every time be it over coffee, dinner table or in bus. “WHY US$250 PER NIGHT?”
And after I explain them the reason for the Royalty and Tariff imposed in Bhutan. They always tell me that it’s a very good initiative taken by the Royal Government of Bhutan, that Bhutan should increase the tariff in near future and how happy they are since their money is being used in a proper way by the government who has high respect for its people.
The Royal Government of Bhutan imposes a Tariff of us$200-250 & one time Visa fees of us$40 per pax per night for the foreign travelers (excluding Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian passport holders) entering into Bhutan. Here are some of the reasons for the Tariff imposed on foreign travelers.
1. To avoid mass tourism
The Tariff is levied on foreign guests coming into Bhutan so as to discourage Back packers, control invasion of tourist and also to safe guard our rich traditional and customs. We don’t want Bhutan to become a Disneyland. The Bhutan of government is determined to safeguard its heritage to ensure that the people maintain their dignity against the onslaught of globalization and modernization.
Everyone wants to visit Bhutan & if Bhutan opens its borders to everyone who wants to visit Bhutan then Bhutan will be flooded with Tourists. Remember Bhutan has a population of little less over 7, 00,000 so if the tourists are not restricted the tourists will overtake the population. “Our neighbor Nepal receives more than 5,50,000 tourists annually”
By levying the Tariff on visiting Guests in Bhutan. Bhutan tries to controls the flow of tourists in the Kingdom, infact restrict tourists coming into the kingdom.
2. Avoid negative impact
Tourists have both pros and cons. To many tourists coming in the kingdom may give rise to diminishing of the traditional and customs of Bhutan. Ever since Bhutan open up to Tourism in 1974 and the government adopted cautious tourism policies from the beginning to avoid the negative impacts that mass tourism have on a small country.
Bhutan is a small kingdom with rich living heritage. Bhutan has never been conquered by any foreign invaders and is one of the most peaceful nations. We still strive on our ancient way of life where family values and religion are always given top priority. Where our tradition and customs exists in our everyday life.
As mystical as it may sound, the Land of the Thunder Dragon is not a museum; it’s an existing culture and possibly one of the last living examples of rich Himalayan society.
3. Bhutan Eco Tourism destination.
This exclusive policy was Bhutan’s representation of Eco tourism. The government has long lived up to its version of sustainable living, encapsulated in its Gross National Happiness policy and its middle path to development.
Mountaineering is closed in Bhutan. “Bhutan has the highest Unlimber mountain in the world Jumolhari Mountain 7,500 meters” but Bhutan government in order to protect its environment and also since the Bhutanese people revere the Mountains as the abode of Gods, the royal government has forbid the mountaineering so as not to go against the sentiment s of the local people.
About 70% of Bhutan is under protected forest cover and Bhutan has one of the rich bio diversity in the world. In this modern era when many species are being extinct, Bhutan is discovering some of the rare species of plants and animals.
4. High Value, Low Impact
Tourism is one of the largest generators of foreign exchange for a country of small economy. The Tourism council of Bhutan has a clear policy of High value, low impact. It is the right policy of Bhutan since Bhutan is too small for mass tourism. By levying us$200-250 per night per person visiting Bhutan, The Bhutanese tour operators provide high end service to the clients. “Tour in Bhutan has to be guided and Visa has to be book via a Local Tour operator registered in Bhutan” .
5. Bhutan Tariff Includes
The Royal Government Tariff of us$68 plus per night will be used by the government for education, medical & over all development of the country. “Education and medical facilities are free in the kingdom”. Therefor indirectly you are promoting the living standards of the small Himalayan Shangri-la Nation. The Kingdom of Bhutan today may be the last un-ventured Shangrila destination. This is how we Bhutanese people would like to keep it.
Thus the careful tourism policy of the Bhutanese Government that says, in essence “LEAVE NOTHING FOOT PRINTS, TAKE NOTHING BUT MEMORIES”.