The tourism policy in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability with an emphasis towards a low-volume, high-quality tourism sector. This means that tourism should be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable, and economically viable. Therefore, the number of tourists visiting Bhutan is kept to an environmentally manageable level through government regulated tourist tariffs, besides restricting backpackers into the country.
The policy of high-value tourism is best put into practice or supported by a system set by the government. This is done by levying an all inclusive minimum daily tariffs of US $200 (regular months) and US $250 (peak season months) for any tourist visiting Bhutan.
From the daily tariff, US $65 per person a night goes towards funding development activities, free health and education for the benefits of all Bhutanese citizens. All visitors, therefore, make a make valuable contribution to the welfare system of the country.
The tariff in this way also limits the volume of visitors visiting Bhutan, thus allowing exclusivity and care to those who are here. While the daily minimum price is most often misinterpreted to be extremely high, the fee covers a package that includes basic accommodation, meals, guide services, internal transport, camping equipments and haulage for trekking tours, government levy, and domestic operator`s overhead expenses.
March, April, May, September, October and November are considered as months of the peak season, while the regular months are December, January, February, June, July and August. In addition to the daily tariff, a single traveler is also levied a one-time surcharge of US $40 per person per night, and a one-time US $30 per person per night for a group of two people to meet the overhead expenses.
Except travelers from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all visitors to Bhutan require visa. Visas are issued only when a confirmed booking through a local tour operator is made. Air tickets to Bhutan can then be issued once the visa is confirmed.
At entry port the visa is stamped on the passport. The tour operator while making the tour payment will collect visa fee of US $40. All visa applications must reach Bhutan at least seven days prior to the intended arrival date. Bhutanese Embassies and Missions abroad do not issue visa for entry to Bhutan.
The national currency in Bhutan is the Ngultrum (Nu) and cash is the preferred medium of exchange.
Prices are usually quoted in Nu although US dollars are also widely accepted and changed. Tourists are recommend to carry cash, either currency or traveler’s cheques, as there is limited ATM access.
The existing ATMs are credit card only. However, most of antique/textile shops around Thimphu and Paro accept VISA credit cards and a few also accept American Express. Nu can be reconverted if exchanged through an authorized money exchanger, especially the financial institutions.
Ngultrum (Nu) is at par with the Indian Rupee (Rs)
1 Nu= 1 Rs
1 Nu= 100 Cheltrums
60 Nu (approx) = US $1
US dollars, Pound and Euro are accepted in most tourist hotels and shops.
ALLOWANCE FOR TOBACCO AND TOBACCO PRODUCTS
As per the government’s regulation, an individual can import tobacco and tobacco products for personal consumption only. However, these need to be declared at the custom by paying 200 percent sales tax and customs duty at the entry point (i.e 100 percent sale tax and 100 percent customs duty).
The permissible quantities for importing tobacco and tobacco products for personal consumption are as follows:
• 300 sticks of cigarette
• 500 sticks of bidi
• 50 pieces of cigar
• 250 grams of other tobacco and its product