DestinationsBhutan reduces its Sustainable Development Fee by 50% until 2027 to boost tourism.

Bhutan slashes daily tourist fee

The reduced SDF aims to stimulate job creation, economic growth, and funding for environmental and social projects.
The reduced SDF aims to stimulate job creation, economic growth, and funding for environmental and social projects. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/kardd

The Royal Government of Bhutan has unveiled an expanded range of incentives and policy measures to further invigorate its tourism sector, particularly by introducing a 50% reduction in the daily Sustainable Development Fee (SDF).

This strategic move comes as Bhutan recognises the pivotal role tourism plays in job creation, foreign exchange earnings, stimulating ancillary industries, fostering overall economic growth, and supporting crucial environmental, social, and infrastructure projects.

The new measures encompass the following key points:

  1. A substantial 50% reduction in the prevailing SDF rate of US$200. This results in an effective SDF of US$100 per person per night.
  2. Furthermore, a corresponding 50% reduction in the SDF rates applied to children aged between 6 and 12 years visiting. The adjusted SDF rate for children amounts to US$50 per person per night. Children below the age of six are exempt from paying the SDF.
  3. The existing 24-hour SDF waiver for tourists staying in border towns will continue as before.
  4. These measures will come into effect from 1 September 2023, and will remain applicable for a duration of four years, ending on 31 August 2027.

Guests who have already made payments for their upcoming trips to Bhutan that include the SDF can expect to receive refunds for any excess amounts paid based on the previous SDF rate.

Dorji Dhradhul, director general of the Department of Tourism Bhutan, commented on these incentives, highlighting how Bhutan's approach to tourism policy is uniquely aligned with its distinctive character. "Acknowledging the need for adapting to change and periodically refining our policies and strategies to align with evolving market conditions, we have temporarily lowered our Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) to breathe new life into our tourism sector."

Since 1974, Bhutan's "High Value, Low Volume" tourism requires SDF payment. The SDF funds conservation, healthcare, culture, and more. In 2023, Bhutan welcomed nearly 60,000 guests, driven by key markets like India, the US, China.

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