A little history
Bhutan, the land of awe and mystery, frequented by travelers around the world imposes a fairly high tariff on visitors. The average traveler pays a USD 250 per day plus a USD 40 for visa. This tariff, however, includes all of accommodations, meals, transportation and guide services. The high tariff was put in place by the government in late 1970 when the country had only but a few visitors. Despite the high tariffs, the country has seen a steady increase in the visitor, thanks to the very well protected culture and natural environment which is the country’s allure. This article talks about why you should visit Bhutan now.
How everything changed
The tariff, however, is not applicable for the passport holders of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. In 1993 the tourist visiting Bhutan was a mere 2850 which rose drastically to 7158 in 1999. By the year 2018, Bhutan saw 274,097 foreign visitors, amongst which 202,290 were regional tourists. As regional tourists do not require VISA to enter Bhutan it has enticed travelers to explore the gem of Himalayas. The article posted in the website of Lonely Planet about the ‘Top 10 countries to visit in 2020’ caught the attention of avid travelers and vacationers.
The article positioned Bhutan in no 1 spot. Lonely planet being a highly reputed travel guide captured everyone’s attention. In the category of ‘everyone’ included renowned individuals as well. The couple of Anushka Sharma (Bollywood actress) and Virat Kohli (Popular Indian cricketer) in their week-long trip to Bhutan, had nothing but praises for the small Himalayan country and its inhabitants.
What to Expect
Popularity Pollutes Piety. Bhutan has now come under the international radar for tourism. This would bring about a great boost in the second-largest source of revenue for the country but at a huge cost. Bhutan might lose the very essence of uniqueness that attracts tourists in the first place. This would be ironic.
The resident of Hallstatt in Austria have no privacy since the 1 million tourists per year has bombarded the small beautiful town with camera flashes and selfies. Tourism in Komodo Island in Indonesia is closed for a year as there were reports of poaching which raised huge concerns for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. A tourist in Rome Italy was caught carving family names into the coliseums.
Mass tourism brings about such impacts and for a population of just 800,000, Bhutan might face damages to its culture, monuments, and people beyond repair. Taking that into account and keeping the policy of “high volume and low impact” in mind, Bhutan has decided to take certain measures.
The rumor is that the regional tourists would have to now pay 65 American dollars per head per day for VISA in addition to the travel packages they opt for. It is still 185 dollars less than non-regional tourists. Measures of this sort would ensure a controlled yet steady influx of tourists. This would also ensure that Bhutan wouldn’t have a large number of tourists at a time which would hamper the overall quality of services provided. At the same time, regional tourists would still have the opportunity to have the experience of a lifetime in Bhutan. It remains to be seen how the government resorts combat the vises of mass tourism.