Duration discount is back!
The long anticipated development for which we hoped was announced today! Bhutan is introducing three duration discount packages in order to incentivize longer stays in Bhutan for international visitors. These three packages are promoted as 4+4, 7+7 and 12+18. Meaning that you pay Sustainable Development Fee of 200 USD per person per night for 4 (or 7 or 12) nights, and you can stay for another 4 (or 7 or 18 respectively) nights without further SDF payment. What it means and how it will work? Read our blog post!
Discount scheme described below was invalidated. From 1 Septebmer 2023 till end of August 2027, flat 50 % discount on 200 USD SDF will be valid. See current rules on Bhutan visa/permit & Tour cost page.
In reality the 4+4, 7+7 and 12+18 will translate in following discounts of 200 USD per person per day SDF.
|Night(s)||SDF per person||Discount||SDF package|
|1||200 USD||0 USD||1x Full|
|2||400 USD||0 USD||2x Full|
|3||600 USD||0 USD||3x Full|
|4 to 8||800 USD||0 to 800 USD||4+4|
|9||1000 USD||800 USD||(4+4) + 1x Full|
|10||1200 USD||800 USD||(4+4) + 2x Full|
|11 to 14||1400 USD||800 to 1400 USD||7+7|
|15||1600 USD||1400 USD||(7+7) + 1x Full|
|16||1600 USD||1600 USD||2x (4+4)|
|17||1800 USD||1600 USD||2x (4+4) + 1x Full|
|18||2000 USD||1600 USD||2x (4+4) + 2x Full|
|19||2200 USD||1600 USD||2x (4+4) + 3x Full|
|20 to 30||2400 USD||1600 to 3600 USD||12+18|
Note: It is possible to repeat packages. However, it is not tot possible to combine. So you can have two consecutive 4+4 packages but not 4+4 and then 7+7.
Please mind that on top of the cost above, you need to count 40 USD per person visa fee. Also, the costs of all the travel services (guide, hotel, vehicle, meals etc.) are not subject to discussed discount.
This SDF discount scheme clearly and effectively incentivizes longer duration stays. Those who stays 4 nights, might seriously consider extending their stay towards the 8 nights if the only increase in cost are the actual services. And those who can afford to stay 11 nights would not be further penalized if they decide to stay up to 14 nights. These discounts are not at all symbolic, longer stays are now getting significantly more affordable than before. The 19 to 30 nights package will make iconic 30 days Snowman Trek, previously way too expensive even for fairly wealthy people, viable option again.
Above discount scheme is becoming applicable from the 1 June 2023 and is supposed to be in force until the end of 2024. However, chances are that future government might feel obliged to update this scheme after the elections in autumn 2023. That remains to be seen.
FAM trips reinstated
Another decision, which reverts the last year's tourism reform, is the reinstatement of the FAM trip for tourism industry professionals. Also, the journalists and influencers are now eligible to apply for FAM trip. Basically, the FAM trip means, that person coming to Bhutan for tourism promotion won't need to pay SDF, if found eligible.
We are still studying what the new rules are. You can check these for yourself below:
Monuments to remain open on auspicious days
And yet another reversion of the last year tourism reform, major monuments would remain open for tourists during the important religious auspicious days and holidays. This rule was source of a lot of headaches among the tour operators who needed to consider irregular auspicious days in the itinerary planning. It is relief to see this rule going away.
For now, we are excited by the development which in our opinion is meaningful and helpful for tourism. While there remains issues to be addressed, for now, we will focus on the fresh changes.