St Lucia plans to introduce a "tourist accommodation fee" on hotels, guesthouses, villas, apartments and Airbnb stays to fund destination marketing and development.
From 1 April 2020, visitors will be charged a nightly rate of US $3 on accommodation costing up to US $120 a night, and US $6 on accommodation priced beyond US $120.
Accommodation sourced through sharing platforms such as Airbnb or VRBO, meanwhile, will be subject to a 7% tourist accommodation fee on the full cost of the stay.
Funds accrued via the charges will be used to finance destination marketing activities by the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) in key markets, including the UK and Europe.
"The business of promoting a tourism destination is becoming increasingly challenging and highly competitive as countries worldwide try to capture a greater share of the growing tourist market," said the SLTA.
"Given this, it is now common practice for countries to finance marketing of their tourism product through an accommodation fee or levy paid for by stay-over visitors."
Its budget currently stands at approximately US $35 million a year, which the SLTA says is modest in comparison to more established destinations with greater resources, which include other Caribbean nations. St Lucia’s proposed fee structure is similar to that of the Maldives.
The cash will also be used to support village tourism and local product development, and for other destination management purposes.
St Lucia currently attracts around 350,000 stay-over visitors annually, and is targeting 541,000 by 2022. The SLTA also wants to increase airlift to the island nation and load factors on all flights into St Lucia to 85% and beyond.
Tourism minister Dominic Fedee said increased spend on destination marketing would benefit all tourism stakeholders including accommodation providers, airlines, tour operators, travel agents, ground handlers, and tourist sites and attractions.
The SLTA added it would establish a process to allow accommodation providers on the island, international tour operators and booking websites to easily send on the fees they collect so the cost is negligible.