Tourists arriving in St Lucia will face an accommodation tax from December 1 in a move that will see a family of four pay up to US$18 extra per night.
Holidaymakers paying a room rate of US$120 or more will be charged $6 per person per night, with children aged between 12 and 17 paying $3.
The rate will be halved for rooms costing less than US$120 per night.
There will be no charge for children under 12.
The tax will add US$250 to the cost of a holiday for a family of four staying for two weeks.
Tourism officials said the ‘Tourism Levy’ will be earmarked for tourism marketing and development after the government cut its US$35m budget.
The government said the introduction of the tax followed ‘continued and extensive consultation over the past two years with key stakeholders in the tourism industry’.
“The Tourism Levy will strengthen the ability for Saint Lucia as a tourism destination to increase its marketing and to support tourism development in Saint Lucia with a tax that correlates to visitor arrivals,” the St Lucia Tourism Authority said.
It defended the move by stressing ‘many destinations’ have levies, including countries that have ‘far greater resources than Saint Lucia’.
“In addition, several Caribbean countries such Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have implemented similar levies on accommodation for visitors,” a statement said.
Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee added: “Saint Lucia is well placed to continue along the trajectory of increasing its visitor arrival capacity and 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 $35 million shall be directed to other demanding areas within key sectors of education, national security, and health care.”