Travellers to Bhutan will pay a much higher Sustainable Development Fee when the destination reopens to international visitors on September 23, but freedom to engage tourism services directly without restrictions of a Minimum Daily Package Rate will be granted.
The Sustainable Development Fee will be adjusted from US$65 per tourist per night to US$200, and be used to fund activities that promote carbon-neutral and sustainable tourism, such as carbon offsetting and workers’ training.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan said in a press statement that the country’s tourism sector will undergo a revamp that focuses on infrastructure and services, tourist experiences, and tourism’s environmental impact.
A new set of standards will be established for tourism service providers, who will soon have to be certified. Training and upskilling programmes will also be ordered to raise service quality.
Tandi Dorji, foreign minister of Bhutan and chairperson of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, said: “Covid-19 has allowed us to reset – to rethink how the sector can be best structured and operated, so that it not only benefits Bhutan economically, but socially as well, while keeping carbon footprints low.”
At the same time, Bhutan will remove the Minimum Daily Package Rate and restrictions to only packaged tours provided by tour operators, allowing tourists to now engage and pay for tourism services directly.
“Our strategy for the revamp of the tourism sector brings us back to our roots, of ‘high value, low volume’ tourism, where we meet the needs of tourists while protecting our people, culture, values and environment,” commented Dorji Dhradhul, director general, Tourism Council of Bhutan.