Effective Dec. 15, hotels in Jamaica will have the option of adding an energy surcharge to their daily rates to help combat the rising costs of energy and oil, according to the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, which supports the surcharge.

In what is believed to be the first destination-wide surcharge for land-based facilities, the JHTA advised hotels to calculate the charge on market assessment and cost structure but recommended that the maximum should not exceed $10 per room, per night.

Several Bahamas hotels have imposed a surcharge for the past two years, but these types of fees are typically associated with airlines, cruise lines and other fuel-powered forms of transportation.

The first to respond was Sandals and Beaches Resorts, which will roll out a surcharge on Jan. 1 of $4 per person per night, to a maximum of $8 per room per night, at its 10 all-inclusive properties on the island.

Couples' three resorts have no plans "at this time" to institute a surcharge, said Randy Johnson, chief romance officer.

Wayne Cummings, JHTA president, said that hoteliers had experienced oil price increases "of approximately 53% since January." He recommended that hotels remove their fee if oil prices come down.

Although Jamaica's official Web site at www.visitjamaica.com and the hotel association site at www.jhta.org plan to post the surcharge information for consumers, agents and operators, no such notice had appeared  at press time, a day after the announcement.

Likewise, Jamaican hoteliers appeared to have been caught off guard by the news. 

Basil Smith, director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, said the tourist board would "make every effort to inform visitors prior to travel."

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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