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Bhutan re-opens, but at sharply higher price


The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, known for its cliff-top monasteries, breathtaking views and ancient palaces on some of the world's highest mountains will now also be known for the world's highest tourist tax, $200 a day.

That represents a big change in the arrangements for the country, which has been closed for two years by the pandemic, and only opened to visitors in 1974.

Before the shutdown, Bhutan required visitors to make their arrangements as part of package tours, including required guides, hotels and meals, as well as a 'sustainable development fee' of $65. There was a 'Minimum Daily Package Rate' of $250 per day, and many tour operators stuck to that as a maximum as well.

In a press release, the Tourism Council of Bhutan argues that lifting the requirement for packaged tours will give travelers greater freedom and flexibility, while funds from the hiked-up tourism tax will go toward promoting "carbon-neutral tourism and building a more sustainable tourism sector [by] offsetting the carbon footprint of tourists and upskilling workers in the sector."

Under the new rules, the package requirement is gone, and the 'sustainable development fee,' or tourism tax, is now $200 a day; visitors will need to pay for hotels, meals and guides on top of that. It also means that five nights in Bhutan will cost $1000 for nothing more than permission to be there... if you are rich enough.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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