SAMANTHA CLANCY WRITES — The Royal Kingdom of Bhutan has recently announced that it would be levying charges on tourists from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, all of which could previously enter at no cost. And therein lies a tiny tale about this small, land-locked nation in Asia, perched so prettily amid the eastern Himalaya mountains south of China.
Tourism levies are nothing unheard of for Buddhist Bhutan, which charges other countries a minimum of $250 per person per day to enter the country. The new fee for these three countries includes a $65 daily Sustainable Development Fee as well as a $40 visa fee.
These would seem steep costs for tourists unused to them, but Bhutan sees them as necessary in order to maintain its sustainability efforts. As the economy keeps growing, the Kingdom remains concerned about holding down carbon emissions, for residents and visitors from all countries. Tourism — with its waves of incoming automobiles and jet planes – are a known contributor to any country’s emissions aggregate.
While Bhutan is expecting tourism from India to remain high, newly imposed fees are a risky move, considering that upwards of 65% of tourists in Bhutan are from India alone. Indian tourists might decide to vacation elsewhere, but it is hoped that the new fees will more than compensate for potentially lost tourism.
In truth, Bhutan would like a sustainable tourist business as well as a sustainable, eco-friendly environment. Who wouldn’t?