NA en­dorsed a bill on tourism levy ex­emp­tion

Bhutan Times - - Home - Pema Yang­zom

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.

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