Bhutan entices travellers to its Himalayan realm by cutting the daily Sustainable Development Fee to USD 100/person/night, down from USD 200, as announced by the Royal Government of Bhutan.

The new, lower levy will be in effect until September 2027.

This bold move amplifies the pivotal role of tourism—creating jobs, boosting foreign exchange, and catalyzing economic growth while fostering spill-over advantages for supporting industries. Beyond economic gains, the lowered SDF will also channel resources into pivotal environmental, social, and infrastructure projects, underscoring Bhutan’s holistic approach to progress.

Bhutan’s new SDF

1. A 50% reduction on the existing USD 200 SDF for US Dollar-paying visitors, making it an attractive USD 100 per person per night.

2. Similarly, a 50% cut in SDF for children aged 6 to 12, setting it at USD 50 per child per night. Kids under six visit SDF-free.

3. Border town tourists continue to enjoy the 24-hour SDF waiver.

Commencing from Friday, September 1, 2023, Bhutan’s new SDF will be in effect for four years until August 31, 2027.

Travellers who have previously fulfilled the SDF payment for their impending Bhutan visit are entitled to claim refunds for any surplus SDF amounts submitted.

Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas, is famed for monasteries, fortress dzongs, and diverse landscapes. Photo/Department of Tourism Bhutan

“In the midst of ongoing global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, persistent conflicts in Europe, and challenges linked to living costs affecting vital markets, we have heeded the voices of our esteemed guests, industry peers, and worldwide travel partners,” says Dorji Dhradhul, the Director General of the Department of Tourism Bhutan.

“Consequently, we’ve chosen to temporarily reduce our Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) to reinvigorate our tourism sector. Much like our nation’s distinctiveness, our tourism approach shines for its uniqueness. Recognising the need for change, we’re refining policies and strategies to align with current market dynamics.”

Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas, is famed for monasteries, fortress dzongs, and diverse landscapes. From subtropical plains to towering peaks like 7,326m Jomolhari, it offers trekkers stunning High Himalayan adventures.

Paro Taktsang in the Paro Valley, Bhutan. Photo/Department of Tourism Bhutan

The lowered SDF offers a wonderful opportunity for more people to experience Bhutan splendid realm in the future, adds the Director General of the Department of Tourism Bhutan, benefiting the locals and projects supported by the SDF.

The new SDF provides an excellent opportunity for a larger number of visitors to experience Bhutan’s magnificent environment in the future. This positively impacts the local community and the endeavours supported by the SDF.

Since 1974, Bhutan has welcomed foreign tourists, a journey complemented by the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), aligned with its ‘High Value, Low Volume’ tourism approach.

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SDF funds bolster Bhutan’s preservation and progress, shunning mass tourism. Beneficiaries include healthcare, education, conservation, cultural preservation, infrastructure, and youth development projects.

Around 50,000 locals find employment in Bhutan’s tourism sector, which previously yielded approximately USD 84 million in foreign exchange annually before the pandemic’s onset.

In January 2023, nearly 60,000 visitors arrived, meeting forecasts for 2023. Key markets include India, US, UK, Australia, Germany, Malaysia, France, Singapore, Vietnam, and China.