Dechen Dolkar  

More than 11,000 tourists visited Bhutan since the reopening of the borders on September 23 as of November 8.

According to the record of the Department of Immigration, around 5,102 Indian tourists visited the country after paying Sustainable Development Fees (SDF) of Nu 1,200 a night as of November 8.

Similarly, around 3,642 tourists visited the country at the old SDF and around 2,349 tourists visited after paying SDF USD 200 per night.

As compared to the past year’s records, September, October and November had the highest numbers of tourist arrivals in the country. In 2019, in October month alone, more than 45,000 tourists arrived in the country, and in 2018 more than 37,000 tourists arrived in the country.

Since the reopening of the borders, the country has earned revenue of around USD 1.70M from the SDF. The country has also earned INR 25.06M from SDF Nu 1200 per night.

It was learnt that the majority of the USD 200-paying tourists visit through local tour operators.

As per the record with the Department of Tourism, tourists from Vietnam were at the top of the list followed by the United States as of October 21, this year. Their average length of stay was six days.

A couple from Israel visited Bhutan last month for vacation through Bhutan Best Inbound Travel for 10 days paying USD 200 per night. They went for a trek.

“We wanted to stay longer but it is very expensive and the rest of the vacation we wanted to spend in Nepal,” the couple said.

The couple said that they also received services more than their expectations.

A tourist spends an average of around USD 350 to 500 a day including the SDF USD 200 a night.

Meanwhile, some of the tour operators said if a tourist comes in one or two, it is very difficult for tour operators to manage resources from it. However, if tourists come in a group, they get minimal profit from it.

The Cabinet has also approved SDF discount for tourists who confirmed their tour on or before June 20, 2022 on November 9.

In accordance with section 7 of the Tourism Levy Act of Bhutan, notwithstanding Section 5 of this Act, a tourist who had confirmed the tour under the Tourism Levy Act of Bhutan 2020 on or before 20th June 2022 shall continue to benefit subject to conditions imposed under Tourism Levy Act of Bhutan 2020 and its Rules thereof.