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Bhutan cuts Sustainable Development Fee by half

It will now be affordable to visit one of the happiest countries in the world. The government of Bhutan has announced that it is cutting the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) by half for the next four years.

Visitors will now be required to pay $100 per person per night for the length of their trip, down from $200 per person per night. The new rates will remain in effect until 31st August 2027. The 50% reduction in rates will also be applicable for children, meaning new SDF rates will be US$50 for those aged between 6 and 12, while it will be zero for those under 6. The 24-hour SDF waiver for tourists staying in border towns will continue.

We have taken the decision to temporarily lower our Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) with the aim of revitalising our tourism sector and refining our policies to better match prevailing market conditions. The lower SDF represents a great opportunity for more people to visit our beautiful kingdom in the future, which will benefit our people as well as the many projects that are funded by the SDF.

said Dorji Dhradhul, Director General of the Department of Tourism – Bhutan.

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He added that the impacts of COVID-19, conflict in Europe and the cost of living crisis were some of the factors that affected this decision.

Earlier this year, the Department of Tourism – Bhutan announced a range of incentives essentially offering “buy one get one free” deals on nights spent in the country to promote longer stays, which has now been replaced by the new rates.

The SDF fees must be paid when applying for a visa (which costs US$40 to process), and can be done on the Department of Tourism’s website Visitors who have already paid higher SDF rates for upcoming trips to Bhutan are eligible for a refund.

The funds collected from SDF are invested in a range of key environmental, social, and infrastructure projects that are designed to support Bhutan’s preservation and progress. This includes the provision of free healthcare and education for all Bhutanese; sustainability and conservation projects; cultural preservation programmes; infrastructure upgrades; youth development programmes, and more.

Tourists to Bhutan have been required to pay a fee since the country opened to international visitors in 1974, and is part of the country’s “high value, low volume” tourism strategy.

What do you think of Bhutan cutting the SDF by 50%? Let me know in the comments section below.

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