Stayover visitors to St. Lucia will be paying a bit more for their stay when the government's new tourist accommodation fee takes effect on April 1.

All guests 16 and over will be charged $3 per night on a nightly rate of $120 or less, or $6 per night when the nightly rate is above $120. The fees apply to all hotels, guest houses, villas and apartments.

Guests at accommodations sourced through sharing platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo will pay a 7% fee on the full cost of their stay.

The fees will be used to finance the destination marketing activities worldwide of the St. Lucia Tourism Authority as well as to support village tourism development.

The island counted 380,617 stayover visitors from all markets through November, up 7.6% over the same period in 2018. The U.S. was the largest market, with more than 172,000 visitors through November.

The tourism authority has set a target of 541,000 stayover visitors by 2022.

Many Caribbean countries have implemented accommodation fees, including Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee said that "it's always a challenge for small countries to allocate much needed resources towards tourism marketing. The accommodation fee allows tourism to pay for itself as the tax will be levied to tourists to the island. It frees up much needed funds for healthcare, education and national security."

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