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St Lucia to introduce room levy

St Lucia to introduce room levy
The Pitons, St Lucia. (FILE)

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CASTRIES – The St Lucia government on Wednesday signalled its intention of introducing a tourism levy that it said will help finance the marketing and development of the industry here.

Government said it has been holding extensive consultation over the past two years with key stakeholders in the tourism industry and that the implementation of this 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, this year, guests staying at registered accommodation service providers will be required pay a prescribed nightly levy on their stay.

In the two tier system, guests will be charged either three or six US dollars 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 realization,” Fedee said, with the government indicating that tourism taxes and levies are common practice in many destinations.

In addition, several Caribbean countries such Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines have implemented similar levies on accommodation for visitors. (CMC)