In a move set to invigorate Bhutan’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, the Department of Tourism Bhutan (DoT) has announced the immediate waiver of Sustainable Development Fees (SDF). The decision, effective immediately, aims to bolster the impact of the MICE market on Bhutan’s tourism industry, extending its positive influence to local businesses and event venues.
The MICE sector has been a vital contributor to Bhutan’s economy, with 904 MICE travelers in 2019, hailing primarily from Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and India. These visitors significantly contributed to the local economy and community, showcasing the sector’s potential for economic growth and community development.
Dorji Dhradhul, the Director General of DoT, underscored the MICE market’s importance as a high-revenue contributor to the global tourism industry. The decision to waive the daily sustainable development fee for MICE events is viewed as a strategic incentive to attract more group business to Bhutan.
Initially applicable solely to government events and meetings, the SDF waiver has been extended to encompass all tourism-related events organized by certified tour operators and hoteliers. This broader scope is expected to stimulate the MICE sector further, making Bhutan an even more attractive destination for international events.
To qualify for the SDF waiver, events must have a minimum of seven participants (excluding organizers, speakers, or hosts), with participants eligible for the waiver for up to four nights per event, excluding travel days. The event must be organized by a Bhutanese tour operator or hotel certified by the Department of Tourism. Importantly, the waiver applies exclusively to participants and not their dependents.
Applicants seeking the MICE SDF waiver must submit requests at least one month before the event, ensuring timely processing and necessary approvals. Following the departure of MICE participants, a comprehensive report detailing the event’s outcomes and accompanying photographs must be submitted to the Department of Tourism within one month.
In a bid to encourage extended stays, MICE participants can choose to explore Bhutan further as tourists by paying the applicable SDF. This flexibility is anticipated to enhance the overall visitor experience, fostering a deeper connection between tourists and the unique cultural and natural treasures Bhutan has to offer.
The waiver of Sustainable Development Fees for MICE events marks a progressive step in Bhutan’s commitment to sustainable tourism while simultaneously positioning the country as a preferred destination for international conferences and events. The DoT’s initiative is expected to stimulate economic growth, promote cultural exchange, and further elevate Bhutan’s standing as a key player in the global tourism landscape.