St Lucia to introduce tourism levy
CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC – The St Lucia government Wednesday signalled its intention to introduce a tourism levy that it said will help finance the marketing and development of the industry.
The government said it has been holding extensive consultations over the past two years with key stakeholders in the tourism industry and that the implementation of the tax follows the introduction of the Tourism Levy Act and amendments to the St Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) Act.
According to the authorities, as of December 15, guests staying at registered accommodation service providers will be required to pay a prescribed nightly levy on their stay.
In the two-tier system, guests will be charged either US$3 or US$6 per person per night depending on a room rate below or above US$120.
A rate of 50 per cent of the tourism levy will apply to guests who are 12 to 17 years at the end of their stay.
The fee will not apply to children under 12 years.
In addition, the government will from December 1, reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 10 to seven per cent for tourism accommodation service providers.
The government announcement states that the levy will strengthen the ability of the island as a tourism destination to increase its marketing and to support tourism development with a tax that correlates to visitor arrivals.
Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee said the island is well placed to continue along the trajectory of increasing its visitor arrival capacity.
“Although we continue to navigate through this time of crisis, our aim is to ensure that the SLTA is self-sustainable. The former budget allocation of approximately US$35 million shall be directed to other demanding areas within key sectors of education, national security, and health care.
“We thank the SLHTA and accommodation providers for embracing the way this levy will be implemented and for working with the SLTA towards this realisation,” Fedee said, with the government indicating that tourism taxes and levies are common practice in many destinations.
In addition, several Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines have implemented similar levies on accommodation for visitors.
President of the St Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association, Karolin Troubetzkoy, said hoteliers appreciate the importance of an appropriately funded tourism authority to promote the destination and “maintain our competitive edge by further developing our amazing and diverse range of island experiences.
“This is why we support the introduction of this tourism levy and will do our utmost to facilitate its implementation,” she added.
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