Visiting Bhutan could become more expensive for Indian tourists as Bhutan's Lower House has passed a legislation that makes it mandatory for visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives to pay a fee of Rs 1,200 per day for "sustainable development" starting July 2020. This legislation was passed on Monday. The decision to impose the fee came after an increase in the number of Indian tourists visiting Bhutan. Compared to 2018, there was a 10 per cent hike in the number of tourists visiting Bhutan from India, Bangladesh and Maldives.
Currently, international tourists have to pay approximately $250 (Rs 18,000 approx) as a minimum charge per day per person. This $250 charge also includes a $65 "Sustainable Development fee" and a $40 visa charge. The tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives don't have to pay any charge as of now. However, as per the new legislation Indians are reported to be charged a Sustainable Development Fee and a "permit processing fee".
The central government sources told the media that the "Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2020" which is still being discussed imposes a very "nominal" charge to develop its tourism facilities and infrastructure. Apart from imposing a very 'nominal' charge, the bill also includes additional provisions for visit of tourists from the three countries to Bhutan. The concerned authorities in Bhutan have assured the Indian government that "tourists from India wouldn't be inconvenienced in the course of the implementation of the new regulation".