A Caribbean island is set to introduce a new tourist levy that will be used for destination marketing and development.
As of April, stayover visitors to Saint Lucia will be required to pay between US$3 ($4.40) and US$6 ($8.70) per night at accommodation as a result of the new levy, while guests at Airbnbs will be required to pay seven per cent on the full cost of their stay.
This reportedly comes as part of a bid by the country’s government to finance destination marketing by its tourism authority in an effort to promote Saint Lucia’s tourism product worldwide. Particular efforts will be funnelled into five key markets: the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and Europe.
The SLTA’s annual budget for marketing and promotion is approximately EC$35 million ($18.8 million).
“It’s always a challenge for small countries to allocate much-needed resources towards tourism marketing,” Saint Lucia’s tourism minister, Dominic Fedee, said.
“The accommodation 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.”
The Saint Lucia Tourist Authority (SLTA) said the introduction of the levy follows government and stakeholder consultation, and that the amount collected correlates to visitor arrivals to the island.
Famous for its volcanic beaches and reefs, Saint Lucia attracts up to 350,000 stay-over visitors every year. The island enjoys a tropical climate, covering a land area 617 square kilometres, and has an estimated population of around 182,000 people.
The island has set a target of 541,000 stay-over visitors by 2022, with the goal of increasing airlift seat capacity and load factor on all flights into Saint Lucia to 85 per cent.
Accommodation providers on the island – including hotels, guest houses, villas, and apartments – are required to collect the amounts from guests, remitted to the government through its tourism authority.
The levy will also be used to support village tourism development, and destination management and development of Saint Lucia’s local product.
According to the destination’s tourism authority, the new tourist fee will be among the lowest in the world.