TCB’s draft rules prescribes heavy fines for tour operators, hotels, guides and tourists for violating new rules

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) has framed the draft of Tourism Rules and Regulations 2022. The rules and regulations apply to TCB, tourism service providers, tourists visiting Bhutan, and the relevant ministries, government agencies, civil society organizations, offices or an individual collaborating with TCB in facilitating tourism activities.

Fines are to be imposed depending on the offences and the associated penalties, ranging from Nu 10,000 to Nu 50,000.

A tourist who fails to pay the applicable SDF will be imposed with a fine of three times the applicable SDF.

If a tourist fails to provide the required and correct information to the accommodation provider, then the accommodation provider may refuse to provide the service by forfeiting the advance payment received.

A tourist accommodation provider that fails to keep the record of the tourists is to be fined Nu 10,000 per person.

A failure by the accommodation provider to adhere by its code of conduct and ethics will be slapped with a fine of Nu 10,000 for each incident incase of homestay, and Nu 50,000 for other accommodation providers.

Tourists visiting Bhutan and travelling beyond the designated point, driving their own vehicles including two- wheelers may be facilitated upon payment of Nu 4,500 (subject to discussion with GoI) and upon fulfilling the requirements.

Tourists driving their own vehicles beyond the designated point without paying the applicable fee and not adhering to the requirement will be fined with Nu 25,000 for two wheelers and Nu 50,000 per vehicle. 

Carrying out a trek without trekking permits call for a Nu 10,000 fine per person per night.

Tourists breaching the code of conduct are to be fined a minimum of Nu 10,000 up to a maximum of Nu 50,000 based on the severity of offence.

Service providers failing to use identified portal for booking services will be charged Nu 50,000 per incident.

It also states that a fine of Nu 10,000 per person per night is to be imposed on failing to arrange accommodation in the tourism certified accommodation or failure to seek the necessary approval. The service provider is liable to pay the fine where such accommodation has been arranged by the service provider.

Having arranged the required tourism services through any person other than those allowed, TCB will not be liable to take up any grievances or complaints. Any person not identified to arrange the tourism service, arranging such services to be fined Nu 50,000 for each arranged service.

Failure to arrange a guide or required number of guides for a group, a fine of Nu 10,000 per tourist will be imposed. The service provider will be liable to pay the fine where guide service has been arranged by the service provider.

Service provider failing to refund as provided or directed will be suspended from the operation of business for the maximum period.

Under the Tourism Service Standard, providing tourism services without a valid license, certification or registration as required, will be charged a fine of Nu 50,000 per service, and for failure to submit a business bond the service provider will be suspended from the operation of business for the maximum period.

The service provider would be prohibited from conducting business for the maximum amount of time if they fail to file for official registration on the tourism portal with TCB.

The service provider’s ability to conduct business will be stopped for the maximum amount of time if the necessary information is not changed.

Failure to discharge the roles and responsibilities and adhere to general code of conduct and ethics calls for a fine of Nu 50,000 for each incident

Any tour operator promoting a specialized product without any certification will be fined with Nu 50,000 for each incident.

For each instance in which a tour operator violates its code of conduct and ethics, a fine of Nu 50,000 will be imposed.

A Nu 25,000 fine may be imposed on the tour guide for each instance in which they violate their code of conduct and ethics.

According to TCB, the objectives of the rules and regulation are to facilitate implementation of the Tourism Levy Act of Bhutan 2022, provide effective and efficient services to the tourist in upholding the tourism policy of High Value, Low Volume,.

It is also to provide clear requirement for registration, licensing and renewal of license for the service provider, provide code of conduct for the service provider, provide standards and process for assessment, certification and monitoring; and prescribe fines and penalties.

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