Assam Border Residents Upset After Bhutan Ends Free Entry For Indian Tourists

The National Assembly of Bhutan passed the decision as a ‘Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan’, 2020, under which Indians will have to pay a fee of Rs 1200 per day


The residents of the Assam-Bhutan border expressed dissatisfaction over the Bhutan government’s new tourism policy under which an Indian will have to pay a fee of Rs 1200 as per day as a means of “sustainable development”. This measure has been taken due to the rising influx of tourists in the Land of Thunder Dragon.

However, children from India, Maldives and Bangladesh under the age of 5 will not have to pay the levy and those between 6 and 12 years will be required to pay only Rs 600.

Also read: Indian Tourists Visiting Bhutan Will Have To Pay Rs 1,200 Fee Per Day

The National Assembly passed the decision as a ‘Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan’, 2020. From the month of July this year, the travellers from the neighbouring countries of India, Bangladesh and Maldives visiting the Himalayan kingdom will have to pay the fee.

In 2018, of the 2,74,000 tourists visiting Bhutan, the council estimated that about 1,80,000 were from India. It needs to be mentioned that in contrast to other international tourists, who pay $250 (Approximately Rs 18,000) as a minimum charge per day per person, which includes a $65 a day “Sustainable Development Fee”, as well as a $40 visa charge, tourists from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives had so far paid no fees and were able to cross over without visas, something that is now set to change.

Speaking to Time8, a local said, “The sudden change in the tourism policy by the Bhutan government will impact the daily lives of the people residing along the Assam-Bhutan border. Under the new policy, Indians will have to pay Rs 1200 per day which is not possible for many as most of the people are daily wagers. We urge the Bhutanese government to withdraw the rule.”

A local. Photo: Time8

The Bhutanese government is mulling to impose a green tax of Nu 2,000 for every foreign vehicle entering and exiting the country carrying tourists. The proposal to impose green tax coincides with the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill.

The Bhutan–India border is the international border separating both the countries. The border is 699 km long, and adjoins the Indian states of Assam (267 km), Arunachal Pradesh (217 km), West Bengal (183 km), and Sikkim (32 km).

The border between Bhutan and India is the only land access into entering Bhutan, as the border with China is completely closed. The single entry point for foreign nationals is between the towns of Jaigaon in the Indian state of West Bengal and Phuntsholing, in South West Bhutan.

Photo credit: 50plusvoyagers