The Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association (SLHTA) continues discussion with the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Finance with regard to the logistics of the implementation of a new head tax regime, referred to as a tourist accommodation fee.
As a recent press release from the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) stated, such a head tax/ tourist accommodation fee already exists elsewhere regionally and globally.
The SLHTA together with representatives of the accommodation sector as well as the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Finance held several meetings over the last 12 months regarding the introduction of such a tourist accommodation fee. Members’ concerns and proposals for a differently structured fee were shared with the Ministries but did not significantly influence the final decision as to the structure of this tourist accommodation fee.
It has recently been confirmed to the SLHTA and the travel trade that the head tax (US $3 and US $6 per person per day depending on daily room rate to be either under or over US $120) is scheduled for implementation as of April 1, 2020 and that furthermore, the VAT will be reduced from 10% to 7%. The SLHTA has requested from the Ministry of Finance that formal, written notification be sent to the Association to be shared with its members.
Whilst accommodation providers generally expressed support for a special tax/fee as a means to create a consistent and reliable marketing budget for the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, there have been mixed reactions regarding the structure and timing of such a tax/ tourist accommodation fee.
The SLHTA membership was kept informed over the past 12 months about these ongoing discussions in newsletters, special communiqués, general meetings and newspaper articles. The SLHTA, however, is keen at this time to receive final formal notification from the Government of Saint Lucia.
A decision needs to be taken as to whether or not the tax is charged to visitors on arrival at their respective accommodation, as is currently the case in Barbados. Some properties may choose to absorb the head tax. Treatment of the tax may therefore differ from property to property.
The SLHTA is in the process of organizing another round of meetings to address member concerns and questions to facilitate the introduction of this tourist accommodation fee. The SLHTA plans to meet with small hotel members on Jan 9 to specifically address the introduction of the tourist accommodation fee with them, given the competitive environment and rate sensitivities in this market segment.