The government has announced three new Sustainable Development Fee incentives for tourists to promote long-stay visits. In the new scheme, US dollar paying tourists will get extra days with SDF waive-offs under three conditions. According to a notification from the Cabinet Secretariat, the SDF incentives will be implemented from today till the end of next year.
Under the 4+4 option, a tourist will have to pay SDF for only four nights. But the person will get an additional four nights without having to pay the 200 US dollar fee per night.
The second option is the 7+7 for which a tourist will have to pay for seven nights and get 7 SDF free nights extra. And under the 12+18, a tourist has to pay for 12 nights and get 18 nights for free.
“For instance, if a tourist is coming to Bhutan and they want to stay longer, I think this will promote that and also encourage them to have more days in Bhutan, I think they can travel to other districts and places in Bhutan. So basically, it is to encourage longer stays and also to visit other parts of Bhutan,” said Karma Dorji, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Employment.
The number of nights declared in the incentives was based on the data of tourist arrivals in 2019. According to the data, it was found that Asians visited the country on an average of four nights and tourists from America and Europe stayed for seven nights. The 12+18 night incentive is to encourage long-stay visits for trekking and hiking in the country.
“So, your question was if they are staying for five or six nights, are they eligible for this promotion? They can choose to pay for four nights and have another four nights free. So, if they are staying for six nights then they get two nights free. But they will have to pay for four nights,” said the minister.
More than 19,000 international tourists visited the country between September last year and May this year. A little over half of them paid the daily SDF of 200 US dollars.