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Fact-Check: Bhutan is not going to charge mandatory fee of $250 per head per day from tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives

Currently, foreigners travelling to Bhutan have to pay $250 per day which includes $65 for Sustainable Development Fees (SDF), 3-star accommodation, visa charges, meals, camping equipment, intra-Bhutan transport, and services of a guide. Tourists from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives are exempted from paying this fee.

A couple of days back the Times of India and Conde Nast Traveller published misleading articles stating that the travelling to the next-door neighbourhood Bhutan could turn expensive for Indian tourists, as Bhutan plans to extend its requirement of a minimum spend of $250 (around Rs 17,700) per head per day over regional tourists from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

In their articles, the media outfits asserted that Bhutan is all set to levy a mandatory daily package of $250 (Approximately Rs 17,700) to the regional tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives who were hitherto exempted from paying it. So far, the mandatory daily package of $250 is only applicable to other foreign tourists but soon it will be applicable from the tourists travelling from India and the other two countries as well, the articles stated.

Currently, the foreigners travelling to Bhutan have to pay $250 per day which includes $65 for Sustainable Development Fees (SDF), 3-star accommodation, visa charges, meals, camping equipment, intra-Bhutan transport, and services of a guide. The foreigners have to pay an additional $40 for Visa charges. However, the regional tourists from India, Maldives and Bangladesh are excluded from paying these charges. Indian tourists in Bhutan pay anywhere from Rs 50-500 per day to enter sightseeing points.

Read: Former Bhutan PM thrashes Indian media for getting the current Bhutan PM wrong

However, according to a report published in the Bhutanese, the government in Bhutan is mulling over keeping the discounted Sustainable Development Fees anywhere between Rs 500- Rs 3500 on a daily basis. The Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji who is also the TCB Chairman said that the final figures have not been decided yet but the draft figures are Nu 500 per day to Nu 3500 per day. These translate to INR 500 to INR 3500.

“The idea is to have SDF and to align it with one policy. We want to have one system and where every tourist will come, pay SDF and get a guide,” Lyonpo said. He also added that with SDF, the regional tourists will have to no longer pay for the additional fees that they were paying so far for monuments and sites all over Bhutan.

The Bhutanese government is not going to impose the mandatory fee of $250 for regional travellers from India, Maldives and Bangladesh as the reports published in the Times of India and Conde Nast Traveller are falsely claiming.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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