Bhutan fee funds happiness

BHUTAN, 7 October 2022: A daily USD200 sustainable development fee is being tagged onto the cost of visiting Bhutan following the reopening of the mountain kingdom’s borders last month. It’s all about funding Gross National Happiness.

Visitors no longer need to book through a tour operator. They can book directly with hotels and hire tour guides, a change aimed at providing a more level playing field in the industry. Travellers will also be issued a 90-day visa, which can be applied for online, with the flexibility to visit anytime within that period.

Bhutan coined the phrase Gross National Happiness, and the sustainable development fee generates revenue to fund the maintenance of the kingdom’s distinct way of life and level up village economies.

International travellers must also shell out USD40 for a tourist visa. Indian visitors pay substantially less to visit Bhutan under the terms of a bilateral agreement. Indian visitors can enter the country with a free travel permit and pay a Sustainable Development fee of INR1200 INR (USD15).

Daily tour, lodgings, guides and meal costs, including the USD200 SDF, average between USD400 to USD550 per person.

Entry conditions came into effect on 3 October 2022.

They include:

All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, are permitted entry without quarantine;
No PCR test is required on entry to the country;
Travel health insurance covering medical expenses and repatriation is mandatory;
All land borders are open for Indian tourists except for Phuntsholing, which is open to other nationalities.