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Bhutan Imposed Entry Fee on Indian Tourists Ending Decade-Long History of Free Entry

In a move to control tourist influx in the country, the government of Bhutan has decided to end its decade long free entry scheme for tourists from the following countries- India, Bangladesh and Maldives. After enjoying free entry to Bhutan, Indian tourists now need to pay an entry fee to visit the land of the thunder dragon. The government in Thimphu has decided to levy an entry fee of $17 (INR 1200) towards the sustainable development fee (SDF) for tourists from these three countries.

To enter Bhutan, tourists will have to pay the stated amount. The sustainable fee will be effective from July 2020 onwards. The decision was taken in light of effect of tourist influx on Bhutan’s ecology.  Reports suggest that Indians contribute a lot in increasing Bhutan’s tourism industry with more than 19 lakhs Indian tourists visiting the country owing to the free entry. However, now that SDF is soon going to be charged from the tourists, Bhutanese authorities have assured the tourists that this newly introduced regulation will not cause inconvenience to them.

Know These Entry Conditions Before Visiting Bhutan

Indian citizens who are planning to visit Bhutan in near future are required to possess these two essential documents a) a valid Indian passport b) Voter ID card issued by the Election Commission of India. To travel Bhutan, Indian tourists need not obtain a visa. If you plan to visit Bhutan by road, you have to get an ‘entry permit’ from the immigration office of the Royal government of Bhutan, located on the Indo-Bhutan border opposite Jaigaon, West Bengal.

However, if you intend to explore the country by air, you must get the entry permit at Paro International Airport. Note that, you can only explore Thimphu and Paro in such a case. To go beyond Paro, you have to obtain a ‘special area permit’ from the immigration office at Thimphu. With the new regulation, apart from the concerned entry permits, you must pay the sustainable development fee as explained.