Saint Lucia will be introducing a tourist accommodation fee to be used for destination marketing and development. As of April 1, 2020, stayover visitors to Saint Lucia will be required to pay an accommodation fee on their nightly stay on the island. All accommodation providers on the island (including hotels, guest houses, villas and apartments) will be required to collect from stayover guests $3 and $6, respectively, on a nightly rate below or above $120. Guests at accommodation services sourced through sharing platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO will be subject to an accommodation fee of 7 percent of the full cost of stay.
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 U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Europe. The fee will also be used to support village tourism development and destination management and development of the local product in Saint Lucia—something that Tourism Minister Hon. Dominic Fedee has been embracing for some time.
Saint Lucia attracts up to 350,000 stay-over visitors each year. The SLTA has set a target of 541,000 stayover visitors by 2022 and aims to increase airlift seat capacity and load factor on all flights into Saint Lucia to 85 percent. The SLTA is also working towards increased awareness of Saint Lucia's brand.
The business of promoting a tourism destination is becoming increasingly challenging and highly competitive, the SLTA says, 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.
Many Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica, Barbados, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have already 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 Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and other well-established tourist destinations globally. Saint Lucia’s fee structure is similar to the Maldives.
Tourism Minister Hon. Fedee says destination marketing benefits all players in the industry – accommodation providers, airlines, tour operators, travel agents, ground handlers, sites and attractions. He added in a written release, “It’s always a challenge for small countries to allocate much-needed resources towards tourism marketing. The accommodation fee allows tourism to pay for itself, as the tax will be levied to tourist to the island. It frees up much needed funds for healthcare, education and national security.”