In a recent press release by tourism stakeholders, Saint Lucia’s Government will be introducing a nightly tourist accommodation fee, as of April 1st, 2020.
The government said it had decided to introduce the charge following consultations with industry stakeholders and this would be used for destination marketing and development. All fees will be collected by hotels, guest houses, villas, apartment owners and given to the government via the Saint Lucia’s Tourism Authority, which currently has an annual marketing budget of $35 million.
Guests paying a nightly rate of below US$120 a night will pay a fee of $3 per person per night while those paying a rate of $120 a night or above will be charged a higher fee of $6.
The tourist accommodation fee will be used to finance the destination marketing activities undertaken by the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) as it promotes Saint Lucia’s tourism product worldwide and particularly in key markets within the US, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Saint Lucia annually attracts an estimated 350,000 stay-over visitors, in hopes of increasing it to 541,000 by 2022. It also wants to increase flight capacity and load factors to 85%.
“The business of promoting a tourism destination is becoming increasingly challenging and highly competitive as countries worldwide try to capture a greater share of the growing tourist market. Given this, it is now a common practice for countries to finance the marketing of their tourism product through an accommodation fee or levy paid for by stayover visitors to the destination,” said a spokesperson for the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
“More established destinations with far greater resources than Saint Lucia such as Canada, the US and Italy all make use of accommodation fees for destination marketing purposes. In addition, many Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, Barbados and Belize and those within the OECS including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, have implemented accommodation levies. These levies are often applied on a per room, per night basis and are sometimes scaled (tiered) based on the type of property. As configured, Saint Lucia’s Tourist Accommodation Fee is among the lowest in the OECS and CARICOM, and other well-established tourist destinations globally. Saint Lucia’s fee structure is similar to the Maldives.”
Tourism minister Dominic Fedee said: “It’s always a challenge for small countries to allocate much needed resources towards tourism marketing. The accomodation fee allows tourism to pay for itself, as the tax will be levied to tourists to the island. It frees up much-needed funds for healthcare, education and national security.”