The change was decided following a meeting between the secretariat and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators on July 25 to discuss the initial proposal that met with outright denial from all tour operators.
The association has asked tour operators to give their feedbacks and suggestions by July 31.
“After a thorough discussion, the secretariat proposed a new royalty increase of USD 10 during peak season and USD 5 during lean season,” one of the association’s officials said. “The increased royalty collection timeframe is proposed at a minimum of 1 year from the date it is decided.”
Despite trimming the royalty they had demanded earlier, tour operators said it was still a steep amount the secretariat asked for.
“We don’t understand why the secretariat would require so much budget for its functioning,” a tour operator said.
Another tour operator said it would make sense if USD 10 and USD 5 was to be given to the secretariat just once on tourist arrival.
“It’s unreasonable to charge that kind of money per tourist, per day/night to inflate the secretariat’s budget,” he said.
Others said from the minimum daily tariff of USD 250, USD 10 went as tourism development fund, which could be used to run the secretariat.
A few week ago, ever since the secretariat was delinked from civil service, the tourism secretariat had proposed for an increase in royalty from the existing USD 65 for peak seasons to USD 80 and to USD 65 from existing USD 55 for lean periods.
While the government benefitted the same royalty it enjoyed so far, the additional amount was to be used to run the secretariat.
Today, the minimum daily tariff of USD 250 and USD 200 from a tourist a day is deposited into tourism council secretariat account, before the government takes its cut from it.
The remaining amount from there goes to tour operators.
After the meeting, tourism association officials said nothing concrete came out of the meeting.
Tourism secretariat’s acting director general Thuji Dorji Nadik refused to comment on the issue expressing disappointment with media coverage on the royalty issue.
Meanwhile, the tourism association will present the tour operators’ feedbacks and suggestions to the secretariat next week.
By Kinga Dema