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Bhutan forces Indians to pay a “sustainable development rate” | India News

THIMPHU (BHUTAN): Bhutan is introducing a “sustainable development rate” for regional tourists after an increase in Indian visitors that has raised concerns about the ecology of the Himalayan kingdom.

Most tourists already pay $ 250 per day in high season, including meals, transportation and accommodation, to visit the country of 750,000 people famous for putting happiness before economic growth and being carbon negative.

But this strategy of “high value and low impact” has been pressured in recent years due to a sharp increase in visitors from its neighboring giant India, which are exempt from the fee.

On Monday, the lower house of Bhutan’s parliament passed legislation that means that visitors from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives must pay a fee of 1,200 ngultrums ($ 16.85) per day from July.

In 2018, Bhutan received 200,000 visitors from countries in the region, almost 10 percent more than in 2017, which generated fears that it was becoming another mass tourism destination.

Indian superstar cricket captain Virat Kohli did a lot to publicize Bhutan when he posted photos of a recent trip with his wife, Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, on social media.

While the most important celebrity couple in India, collectively nicknamed “Virushka”, behaved, others did not.

Last October, an Indian motorcyclist caused outrage by climbing over a monument to pose for a photograph.

However, the president of the hotel and restaurant association of Bhutan, Sonam Wangchuk, expressed fears that the newly built cheap hotels that are adapted to the increase in Indian visitors will now be ruined.

“We have shared our concerns and feelings with the government. But despite that, they went ahead with the decision,” Wangchuk told AFP.

Tandi Dorji, Bhutan Foreign Minister and head of the Tourism Council, said the government would consider tax incentives if the new rate affected the hotel sector.

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