NA endorsed a bill on tourism levy exemption
T ourism in Bhutan began in the year 1974, when the government in an effort to raise revenue and to promote the country’s unique culture and tradition to the outside world.
In line with this, Finance Minister Namgay Dorji introduced a bill on tourism levy exemption of US$65 on 16th November this year at National Assembly to promote tourism in the eastern circuit of the country.
The Bill was introduced with the preamble, “WHEREAS the need for targeted intervention was felt to improve tourism growth in eastern Dzongkhags and incentivize leisure tourist through exemption of tourism levy.
However, on 29th of November the member in the house discussed over the Bill for the whole day regarding its benefits and disadvantages of the tourism levy, which is also termed as Sustainable Development Fee (SDF).
On 30th November, Tourism levy exemption Bill of Bhutan 2017 was passed in parliament with votes of 37.
The Act was implemented as a trial bases for the duration of 3 years starting from this year till 31st December 2020.
The tourist who will be visiting six eastern districts will be exempted from paying tourism levy of US$ 65 per night halt. The international leisure tourist visiting eastern circuit will be exempted form payment of applicable tourism levy for the duration for their stay.
Even though the Bill was approved by the maximum of the members in the house, there were few members who felt that the exemption on tourist levy would affect the income and revenue for the nation although its good idea for promoting tourism in eastern district.
The opposition party requested house to exempt tourism levy keep up to US$30 to US$35 for a time being, in spite of US$65 ad hoc. Instead of exemption on tourism levy if government could work in different area to promote tourism in eastern circuit it would be greater benefit for the nation.
Member of Parliament from Nubi- Tangsibji constituency Nidup Zangpo said that Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators ( ABTO) and other tourism agencies through Tourism Council Bhutan ( TCB) requested the house for the cancellation of the Bill on the exemption tourism levy.
Whereas the opposition party couldn’t do much due to majority supports for decision in the house, said Nidup Zangpo.
“I agree with the decision on promoting tourism in eastern Dzongkhags, however, the ways to promote tourism in eastern circuit is disagreeable,” Nidup Zangpo.
MP Nidup Zangpo questioned that it is not right time for the discussion on exemption of levy, if the exemption is trial for three years, why Government didn’t do it earlier, as the tenure for the government is left only 8 months?
Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said, though it’s said only that exemption on tourism levy is meant for eastern parts but we should think that it is for the nation. It is beneficial for all from the time when tourist steps in Paro Airport. It will benefit shopkeeper, hotelier, tourism agencies, driver and nation as well.
It is just named as a levy exemption for eastern circuit but it is going to benefit all the people as it is government policy which is going benefit nation only, added Lyonpo Namgay Dorji.