Bhutan has slashed its Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) tourist tax by 50 per cent for the next four years.

As of 1 September, visitors will be required to pay US$100 per person, per night for the length of their trip (down from US$200 per person per night). The new rates will remain in effect until 31 August, 2027.

The 50 per cent reduction will also be applied to children, meaning new SDF rates will be US$50 for those aged 6-12, while those under 6 will be free. The 24-hour SDF waiver for tourists staying in border towns will continue.

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essentially offering “buy one get one free” deals on nights spent in the country to promote longer stays, which has now been replaced by the new rates.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.

Dorji Dhradhul, the director general of the Department of Tourism Bhutan, noted the impacts of Covid-19, conflict in Europe and the cost of living crisis as factors in the decision.

He said: “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.”

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.

Funds from the 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.