The introduction of entry fees for regional tourists visiting places of historical and cultural interest in 2016 has not reduced the numbers visiting Bhutan say officials of the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
According to Bhutan Tourism Monitor (BTM) in 2015, when entrance fee system was not implemented, total regional arrivals was 97, 584, while in 2016 with the introduction of entrance fee requirement, the number increased to 146,797 arrivals. So even with the introduction of entrance fee regional tourists visiting Bhutan is on the rise.
“While International tourism is regulated by a minimum daily tariff mechanism, mandatory need to come through a licensed tour operator and use of tourist guides, regional tourist are exempted from such requirements,” an official from Tourism Council of Bhutan said. “Because they are exempted from such requirements regional visitors are growing.
Therefore, TCB started Online Regional Permit System as an optional channel to process entry permits from Phuentsholing and Paro.”
The TCB official explained that the purpose of introducing fee system is not to discourage visitors but to improve the visitor’s experience. Unlike before, the tourist will get a guided tour while visiting these sites.
TCB also said that visitors paying a daily tariff of USD 250 and children below 7 years are exempted from paying entry fee and also there is a deduction for students if student Identity card is produced.
“Individually or collectively, we are increasing visitor value by increasing visitor satisfaction. By putting ourselves in the shoe of our visitors, by building on what we are doing well and by eliminating areas of dissatisfaction, we are seeing visitors stay longer, travel more widely and spend more,” according to TCB official.
The entry fee requirement is already in place at Tashichhodzong, Thimphu, Taktshang, Paro, Punakha Dzong and Memorial Choeten.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industry in the country according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor.