Find out how Bhutan offers extra days of free accommodation for tourists

The longer the stay in Bhutan, the greater the savings for tourists.

By any measure, Bhutan is an extremely unique country. Located to the east of the majestic Himalayas and bordering China and India, this remote mountain kingdom is the last remaining haven of Mahayana Buddhist culture in the entire Himalayas.

The influence of this ancient tradition permeates every aspect of life in Bhutan. Bhutan opened its doors to the world in 1974, and since then the current king has implemented a deliberate policy to protect the country’s traditional culture and unspoilt environment, successfully protecting it from outside influences. This approach has been very successful so far.

Bhutan has awe-inspiring landscapes, stunning temples and a plethora of attractions to delight residents and visitors alike. However, when the country decided to reopen its borders to tourists after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, it introduced a hefty fee called the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF).

According to the SDF, in addition to travel and accommodation costs, Indian tourists are charged USD 65 (Rs 1,200) per person per day, while tourists of other nationalities are charged USD 200 (Rs 16,000) per person per day. These factors have had a profound impact on Bhutan’s tourism industry, prompting the government to introduce incentives to encourage tourists to visit the country.

Now, Bhutan’s tourism industry aims to attract tourists with a boost. From June 2023 (applicable from June 1) until the end of 2024, all travelers who stay at least five nights in the country can avoid paying certain daily tourist fees. The longer the stay, the more benefits they can enjoy.

The announcement posted on the website of the Bhutan Tourism Department has attracted widespread attention. Under the new scheme, travelers who pay SDF for the first four days will get an additional four days for free. Likewise, those who pay for the first 7 days can stay an additional 7 days without paying for the second week. Additionally, individuals who pay for 12 days will have their fees waived for the next 18 days.

To help potential travelers calculate potential savings under the incentive scheme, the Bhutan Immigration Department is creating a website. Despite concerns about economic damage to the country, the move is expected to boost tourism receipts and generate considerable enthusiasm among potential tourists.

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