The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which has not received more than 30,000 tourists a year, announced a hike in its daily tourist tariff from $ 200 to $250, continuing its policy to avoid back packers and bring in only the rich.
The new tariff will be in force from next year.
Lonely Planet rates this country of virgin forests, glacial rivers, and centuries-old fortresses, as one of the world’s most expensive destinations. Gross National Happiness is the national developmental philosophy as opposed to Gross National Product. Though one of the world’s poorest countries, Bhutan which embraced democracy in 2008, after 100 years of monarchy, is rated one of the happiest countries.
The tariff covers the entire tour package in the country including food, stay in star hotels, travel and the service of a trained guide.
Interestingly, the tariff increase comes at a time when the government is pushing policies to increase tourist arrival by 100,000 in the next three years. Blame it the bird flu scare and the global recession, arrivals saw a 15% drop last year, after a steady growth in the past six years.
Hidden in impenetrable Himalayan mountains between the world’s most populated nations, India and China, this country of around 700,000 and half the size of the U.S state of Indiana followed a self-imposed policy of isolation. The first tourists came in 1974. Cautious of the ill effects of mass tourism in other countries in the region, Bhutan’s policy of ‘low volume high value’ tourism is widely accepted as a wise move.