Staff Reporter  

All tours confirmed before June 20, 2022 can avail of rates applicable under the Tourism Levy Act of Bhutan 2020, the minimum daily package rate (MDPR), which includes the royalty of USD 65.

June 20 is the day Tourism Levy Bill 2022 was tabled in National Assembly or the day it comes into effect.

This was a major recommendation from the National Council to let all confirmed tours benefit from the old pricing.

National Assembly members including the Tourism Council of Bhutan chairperson and Foreign Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji spoke in support of the recommendation. They said they had missed it while they deliberated and passed the Bill last week.

The NA had initially passed the Bill saying that old pricing under the Tourism Levy Act 2020 will apply only to those tourists who had paid and confirmed their tours before June 20, 2022.

Members said that the precedent was the tours were confirmed months ahead, while the actual payment took place closer to the time of the visit.

TCB chairperson Dr Tandi Dorji said that tour operators have to show evidence of tour confirmation by tourists to avail of this facility.

The final Section 6, Transitional and Saving, has been adopted as thus: “Notwithstanding Section 4 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 Rules thereof.” NA members through a majority show of hands endorsed the recommendation of the National Council.

The Tourism Levy Bill 2022 was passed by both the Houses after the National Assembly endorsed all 11 recommendations from National Council on the Bill and adopted it with a large majority in favour yesterday. The Bill will now be submitted to His Majesty The King for Royal assent.

Chairperson of the Economic and Finance Committee, Kinga Penjor presented the 11 recommendations made by the National Council on the Bill along with the committee’s decision to accept the recommendations.

National Council also recommended changes to Section 7. The section reads, “A tourist shall be liable to pay a tourism levy known as the Sustainable Development Fee of USD 200 per night which may be revised by the Competent Authority from time to time”.

The NC recommended deleting “which may be revised by the Competent Authority from time to time” from the section justifying that the taxes, fees and other forms of levies shall not be imposed or altered except by law as per the Article 14.1 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Of the 40 sitting members yesterday, 38 voted Yes, 1 voted No, and 1 abstained.